The Beautiful Tunes Of Psalteries

By Ina Hunt

The recorded origin of the psaltery is Greece. Similar instruments have been reported in other regions with the uniformity in use of fingers to pluck as opposed to plectrums. The evolution of psalteries has taken years and resulted in a variety of designs being commercialized while others are confined to their communities of origin. They were common in the medieval age especially in Europe.

Religious scriptures record instances where this instrument was used in translating foreign words whose meaning was unknown. This information is recorded in the books of Psalms, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles and Daniel. The idea is to offer the pitch during pronunciation so that the kings or orators get the words right.

The general design for a psaltery consists of a sound board with a number of strings attached at an angle. The sound produced depends on the tuning. It comes in a small portable size which allows it to be used in many locations. The community of origin determines how and when it is used. The pitch of sound produced varies from one instrument to the other especially depending on size.

The medieval society had a central place for the psaltery. This was evident in their paintings and sculpture. They also were a common part of theatrical performances and manuscripts written in this era. They would be found in palaces and formed an integral part of entertainment for the king.

The designs that emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have become popular because of commercialization. They comprise of a triangular shape with bowed ends from where strings were attached. The popularity of this variation has overshadowed others that still exist in the enclaves of parent communities.

The bowed psaltery, also referred to as the zither is modified slightly and comes with a playing bow. This is unlike the original design which was played using fingers. The new model has chromatically arranged strings. It produces standard tunes when bowed.

The modern triangular design ensures that each string extends a few centimeters more than the previous. This has allowed the chromatic design to be enhanced as well as factor in the element of sharps and flats in music. The origin determines other intricate features of the design. The violin bow has been popularized by commercialization.

The style of play depends on individual instrumentalists and the music they are performing. This allows for one note at a time play or a fitting melodic rhythm. It may be held with one hand and bowed with the other. The other option involves plucking in order to add tone to the tune.

Modern designs have their strings close together in a way that hinders strumming. Such closeness makes individual plucking a bit of a challenge unless the player decides to do it at the ends. Sound is amplified by the sound box which has strategically perforated holes for this purpose.

Individuals personalize their instruments through coloring without affecting sound production or quality. Experts in bowing can use two bows in order to achieve double stopping. The quality and pitch of produced sound depend on how tight a bow is, among other factors. The instrument produces beautiful acoustic sound.

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