dimanche 2 mars 2014

Handmade Psalteries Produce Amazing Sounds

By Krystal Branch

Psalteries, or psalterions are ancient musical instruments, known and used for thousands of years. This simple but lovely instrument was mentioned in the Old Testament, three hundred years BC, but it was widely spread in all known civilizations of Europe and Asia at the time. Handmade psalteries were basically simple wooden boards, with gut strings. The instrument was played with fingers, or with plectrum.

Later on, psaltry got a hollow box with metal strings and sound holes. In different parts of old world, different shapes were popular. Trapezoidal psaltery with three or four strings was preferred in Southern Europe, but rectangular ones were also quite common. In Northern Europe, triangular and wing shaped ones were more popular, and some variations had double strings as well.

The instrument is quite similar to zither, and the later one probably is a psaltery version. The harpsichord is larger, and have a keyboard mechanism, but it is similarly designed. The basic principle is that all strings are open, and there are no stoppers there for producing specific tones.

In some parts of Europe, this instrument is used even today, primarily in folk music. For example, very similar instrument is used in Finland, and they call it kantele. In Estonia, the instrument derived from the old psaltery is called kannel, and still rather popular. Russian gusli are also related to it, but some of these instruments are rather bowed than plucked.

In Arabic countries, they also still use similar instruments. They are triple strung, and played with finger plectra. Another type of saltere is called dulcimer. Its strings are struck with hammers, not plucked. In any case, you will find different similar instruments across the Asia as well, especially in India and China. The interesting thing is that you can play all kinds of modern music as well, and you will be surprised with the tone quality.

It really is simple to learn to play psalteries, and the tone they make is absolutely amazing. It remains in the air, tingling and ringing, it is clean and interrupted, simply adoring. The instrument itself is designed really simply, and the only thing that dictates the tone height is the length of the wire, and your ability to play on it. If you are interested in something different, this might be something for you.

Psalteries are still quite popular, especially in last few years. They look very decorative and produce original tones all music enthusiasts always appreciate. The most popular shape is certainly triangular. They are mostly strung with plain steel music wire with a high tensile strength. Depending on the instrument's size, one to three different string gauges are used.

Handmade psalteries are especially interesting. Some really are a work of art. If they are built properly, using appropriate types of wood and finishes, you will get really great fullness of tone that you will surely appreciate. These simple and interesting musical instruments are also very decorative. And will look amazingly good displayed in your living room, even if you have no interest in playing them.

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