Mudcat Café message #3509510 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46928   Message #3509510
Posted By: Jack Blandiver
27-Apr-13 - 05:12 AM
Thread Name: So, what became of the lyre?
Subject: RE: So, what became of the lyre?
the "stop and strum" presupposes the use of modern chords and that troubles me a little. Of course, we simply don't know what they did

Not exactly true. It's clear from the iconography that the 'stop & strum' technique was the standard way of playing lyres from the Semitic Lyre depicted on the tomb of Knumhotpe circa 1900BCE to the so-called Round Lyre depicted on Saxon manuscripts some 3,000 years later. That this technique survives today in the lyre traditions of North Africa is little short of miraculous. Here's Mohamed Gubara, master of the 5-string lyre Tambur using various plucking techniques in a prelude to a virtuoso piece of stopping & strumming:


One theory of the origins of the bow has it evolving from the long plectra used for lyre strumming. Some of the earliest instruments we see being played with a bow in medieval iconography are lyre-type rather than lute-type (i.e. fiddles) - and it as a bowed instrument (see my post above) that the lyre survived in Northern Europe into modern times. I find it an interesting quirk of design that the lyre depicted on the tomb of Knumhotpe 4,000 years ago has more than a look of the Welsh Crwth about it.