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mystery instrument

leeneia 11 Jan 22 - 08:03 PM
Joe Offer 11 Jan 22 - 08:16 PM
leeneia 12 Jan 22 - 12:11 AM
Stilly River Sage 12 Jan 22 - 12:13 AM
cnd 12 Jan 22 - 11:12 AM
cnd 12 Jan 22 - 11:56 AM
leeneia 12 Jan 22 - 12:17 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Jan 22 - 04:36 PM
Helen 12 Jan 22 - 04:49 PM
FreddyHeadey 12 Jan 22 - 04:52 PM
GUEST,Little Robyn 12 Jan 22 - 04:52 PM
Felipa 12 Jan 22 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,harpy 12 Jan 22 - 05:15 PM
Sandra in Sydney 12 Jan 22 - 05:20 PM
Helen 12 Jan 22 - 06:14 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Jan 22 - 08:13 PM
GUEST,Jim P 12 Jan 22 - 08:16 PM
Sandra in Sydney 12 Jan 22 - 08:51 PM
open mike 12 Jan 22 - 09:36 PM
GUEST 13 Jan 22 - 01:53 AM
leeneia 13 Jan 22 - 01:07 PM
ripov 13 Jan 22 - 02:13 PM
Helen 13 Jan 22 - 02:18 PM
leeneia 14 Jan 22 - 10:43 PM
leeneia 14 Jan 22 - 10:56 PM
Helen 14 Jan 22 - 11:14 PM
leeneia 15 Jan 22 - 03:39 PM
Helen 15 Jan 22 - 04:55 PM
Howard Jones 16 Jan 22 - 09:33 AM
leeneia 16 Jan 22 - 01:59 PM
Helen 16 Jan 22 - 02:20 PM
Helen 16 Jan 22 - 04:03 PM
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Subject: mystery instrument
From: leeneia
Date: 11 Jan 22 - 08:03 PM

I've been given an instrument, and I want to what it is and how to tune it.

1. Shaped like a great big cigar, 6 inches by 30. It is made of wood, is a box, with a soundhole.

2. Has ten tuning pins in a straight line across the top.

3. Has ten other pins in an arc at the round end.

4. Has a moveable bridge.

5. Has one string (nylon) threaded in an out of all ten pins.

6. Has feathers and beads burned or painted under the strings.

7. Has wooden "horns" on the top, apparently just for decoration.

8. Has a capital D with a bar across it near the bridge.

9. Known to have come from Arkansas. A friend says it's Cherokee.

It's not a lyre, and it's not a psaltery. We tried tuning it in the key of C, but the strings were getting so tight we feared they would break, so we stopped.

Any ideas?


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Jan 22 - 08:16 PM

I'm intrigued.
Can you send me a picture to post?


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: leeneia
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 12:11 AM

Tomorrow, with the assistance of the DH. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 12:13 AM

Some kind of homemade nyckelharpa?


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: cnd
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 11:12 AM

The shape sounds rather reminiscent of an Appalachian Dulcimer but the rest is strange


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: cnd
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 11:56 AM

Sounds in construction like a monochord; see here for examples

"monochord, also spelled manichord, musical instrument consisting of a single string stretched over a calibrated sound box and having a movable bridge. The string was held in place over the properly positioned bridge with one hand and plucked with a plectrum held in the other."


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: leeneia
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 12:17 PM

Monochord gets us closer, but monochords are supposed to have many bridges so that strings can play different notes. My instrument has only one moveable bridge.

Different strings are different thicknesses on the instrument, which tells me they should be tuned differently. I hope Joe will post a picture soon, so you can see how beautifully it is made. It is not an experimental thing that somebody put together in the garage.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 04:36 PM

Here is a link to the photo. Remarks posted on Facebook should be copied over to here so they aren't lost.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Helen
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 04:49 PM

It looks like a lyre or a psaltery to me. They come in many shapes and sizes.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 04:52 PM

On FB Linn Schulz suggested the Viking style lyre played by Lyn Noel.
Heres a link to a photo of it on her FB page 'Gudrid the Wanderer.
https://m.facebook.com/gudridthewanderer/photos/a.189681755002588/286075372029892/


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: GUEST,Little Robyn
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 04:52 PM

Why do you say it's not a lyre? It looks very much like a lyre to me - they come in all shapes and sizes and vary in their tunings. Look here for
various types of lyre
Or check out Wikipedia
for the history and wide range of lyre types.
Little Robyn


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Felipa
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 05:04 PM

yes looks like a lyre, quite a modern one I think. I have seen and heard people singing with lyres.

How to play the lyre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ykfMC5uvsc
The lyre shown at the start of the video has 10 strings, so is similar to Leenia's.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: GUEST,harpy
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 05:15 PM

That’s a lyre.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 05:20 PM

well done, Mudcatters!

I'm not on facebook so couldn't see the original pic (Mudcat a private group?), but could see Gudrid's harp (public??)


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Helen
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 06:14 PM

Hi Sandra,

I'm not on Facebook either but I could see the image. Luck of the draw, maybe?

I did an image search for psaltery on Google and saw a lot of different instruments but some resembled leeneia's instrument and some resembled lyres.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 08:13 PM

The Facebook page is still public, despite the pressures to go private. The reason for having it is to share things like photos that can't appear on Mudcat, while still keeping the conversations and data over here on the Mudcat site. It's also a great place to post sharable links to performances and upcoming events, so it has to be public to make that possible for people to see and share. (It does mean we have to filter out spam and porn folks who try to join.)


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: GUEST,Jim P
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 08:16 PM

It does look a lot like a Sutton Hoo/Trossingen Saxon lyre.

https://youtu.be/zcEu0vr1D5Q


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 08:51 PM

goodonya, Stilly!


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: open mike
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 09:36 PM

HERE ARE THE POSTS THAT HAVE BEEN ADDED TO FACEBOOK                  
B. Ross Ashley
Somewhat resembles a kantele ....
· Share · 5h
Jeni Beilharz
Simon Spalding, do you happen to know what this is?
· Share · 5h
Jacqui Sandor
It looks kind of like a lyre harp… but definitely a unique one!
· Share · 5h
Brett Burnham
Lyre!
I am not!
· Share · 5h
Linn Schulz
Looks like the Viking-style lyre Lynn Noel plays.
· Share · 5h
Joanne Laessig
if you don't see tails on the round end, and the size of strings comes in pairs, perhaps each pair is one doubled string, spread apart around pegs at the bottom? That is the stringing solution to some of those eccentric Marx instruments like ukelins & such or hammer dulcimers that have three strings per course (and the third string is shared between two courses)


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jan 22 - 01:53 AM

It looks very similar to an Anglo-Saxon stylized Lyre.
They can have 3, 5 or 6 strings.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: leeneia
Date: 13 Jan 22 - 01:07 PM

Wikipedia says "a lyre is considered a yoke lute, since it is a lute in which the strings are attached to a yoke that lies in the same plane as the sound-table and consists of two arms and a crossbar."

My instrument doesn't have the strings on a crossbar, so I decided it is not a lyre. However, I've now seen pix of modern instruments which resemble mine and are also called a lyre.

However, the moveable bridge is a whole nother ball game. What do I do with that?


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: ripov
Date: 13 Jan 22 - 02:13 PM

It's a Crwth.a welsh instrument similar to a lyre, the decoration certainly appears to imply aboriginal american connections


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Helen
Date: 13 Jan 22 - 02:18 PM

leeneia, the movable bridge is probably a clever adaptation to either change key or adjust the tuning of each string because the range is very limited on a small number of strings.

This is how I assumed that a lyre would be mostly played:

A Trossingen saxon Lyre - 6th century being played by plucking the strings.

But looking at videos I saw a clever technique for chords:

Strumming technique on Trossingen lyre - Ar Mor Benjamin Simao

Both techniques

When I am tuning my Celtic harp I can tell when the string is reaching a critical state close to breaking point. I had a harp made by someone but I wasn't happy with the range of notes on it so I tried to change it up to a higher range but the strings were not happy so I had to stick with the original range. I bought fantasticlyu beautiful strings from Markwood Heavenly Strings & Kits and the problem was solved.

I think that if you tighten the strings - or as you said, there is only one string threaded in an out of all ten pins - to the point where the tension is tight but not too tight to be in danger of breaking and they resonate ok, then move the bridge carefully and check the tuning of each string. Hopefully the bridge can be moved at an angle so that all the strings are in tune in the range you want or possibly the range that the instrument will allow.

Having only one string might make it difficult to precisely adjust the tuning of each note. Question: do zithers have only one string. I vaguely remember hearing that. Their tuning arrangement is more complicated.

Another issue with playing a lyre, which is a similar issue that I've seen on the African kora, is that some of the practical technique revolves around holding the instrument but a harp stands on its own or is supported in the lap so both hands/all fingers can be used to create the music.

I'll be interested to find out how this works out for you. Please keep us posted.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: leeneia
Date: 14 Jan 22 - 10:43 PM

It's possible that it's not supposed to be tuned to a scale. What if one tunes it to 2 or 3 chords and sings a song while strumming on it? That might explain the moveable bridge - it makes it possible to change the pitch while maintaining the relationship among the strings.

I'm hoping that someone who once bought one and has read the directions will come along and post to this thread.
=======
A long time ago I gave a lecture at a folklore convention about contemporary proverbs. One of them was "When all else fails, read the directions."


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: leeneia
Date: 14 Jan 22 - 10:56 PM

It's not a crwth. It has too many strings, it doesn't have the gizmo where the strap attaches, and the woman who owned it was a serious violinist and would not have lost the bow. She lived in the same house from 1956 to 2021, and so she couldn't have lost it moving.

Nonetheless, here's a cool video of somebody playing a crwth:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yYg_7cm0Rs

In Welsh, w can make an oo sound, so crwth rhymes with root.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Helen
Date: 14 Jan 22 - 11:14 PM

leeneia,

Personally I think it would be unusual to have an instrument with so many strings and then have the strings tuned all the same. (By "so many strings" I mean, the single string being wound around the pins could be adjusted across the range to have a different tuning for each length.)

Having a movable bridge there seems to indicate that it is used for tuning each part of the string from one pin to the next. (Personally I think it would be a lot easier to have each string length made into a separate string per note, but that's just me. Maybe having a harp makes life a lot easier than trying to tune a lyre??!)

Lyres and harps evolved to have a more triangular shape to allow each string to resonate at its best length for the note it is tuned to. Your instrument has the tuning pins on a straight edge at the bottom and a curve at the top. The notes would be very limited without moving the bridge to tune each of the string lengths.

I just did a quick Google search on tuning Anglo Saxon lyres - because yours appears very similar - and this page seems useful.

Anglo Saxon Lyres

Perhaps you could send a photo to the website owner and he may be able to identify the instrument and give you some clues on the tuning. From a quick scan of that page he seems very knowledgeable about lyres. He might even know the origins of your instrument.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: leeneia
Date: 15 Jan 22 - 03:39 PM

I was wrong when I said it seemed to have one string. There are three strings divided among the ten notes. Three are .04 inches, two are .032, and 5 are .021. (The DH measured them with a micrometer.)


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Helen
Date: 15 Jan 22 - 04:55 PM

Hi leeneia, that makes more sense to me. One single string IMHO would be just a device to make me go crazy because it would be close to an impossible puzzle to solve, I think.

Here is the string chart for my Harpsicle harp.

Harpsicle Harp Strings – Standard

(I couldn't find the chart on the Harpsicle website, but it's very similar to the one I received with my harp last year.) It shows the string diameters for the different notes.

It might give you an idea of the ideal tuning for each string.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Howard Jones
Date: 16 Jan 22 - 09:33 AM

The capital D with a bar looks like the capital form of the letter Eth, which made me wonder whether it might be Icelandic, however it doesn't seem to resemble any traditional Icelandic instruments.

It could of course simply be a generic lyre type, not based on any particular historic or traditional instrument.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: leeneia
Date: 16 Jan 22 - 01:59 PM

You're right, Helen. The idea that there was just one string was a mistake. Thanks for the Harpsicle chart.

It's only history is that it came from Arkansas.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Helen
Date: 16 Jan 22 - 02:20 PM

Interesting, Howard. It could also be a link to the Anglo Saxon lyres. In Old English the letter Eth was used and OE is from Anglo Saxon language. It looks a lot like the Sutton Hoo lyre to me so my guess is that it was made based on that design.

Michael J. King, whose site I linked on 14 Jan 22 - 11:14 PM could probably identify it in a flash if you sent him the photo. That's my bet.


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Subject: RE: mystery instrument
From: Helen
Date: 16 Jan 22 - 04:03 PM

"On February 24, 2014, Christopher Nogy joined Joshua Foer onstage at the Institute Library in New Haven, Connecticut, as part of the ongoing series “Amateur Hour,” in which various tinkerers, zealots, and collectors discuss their obsessions. Nogy builds medieval musical instruments such as lyres, harps, and rebecs at his home shop in Benton County, Arkansas. He bases his creations on thousand-year-old instrument fragments."

Christopher Nogy's Sutton Hoo Lyre


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