Handmade Psalteries Look Really Decorative

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.

After some time, this plain wooden board became a wooden box, with sound holes, but strings were still quite simple, without stoppers. There were trapezoidal, rectangular, triangular and wing shaped psalteries at the time, and some shapes were more popular in different countries. For example, in northern Europe, they preferred triangular and wing shaped instruments, sometimes double strung.

Zither and harpsichord were made on the same principle. Harpsichord is really a larger version of a psaltery, but with a keyboard mechanism for easier plucking of strings. The basic principle is having the open strings, without any stoppers. The tone is determined with the length of a particular string.

In some countries, this lovely instrument is still in use, mainly in folk music. In Finland, they call it kantele, and in Estonia, they have their own version called kannel. Russian gusli are made using the same principle, but their version is bowed, not plucked. In any case, this is one of the very few instruments that remained practically the same for thousands of years.

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.

The sound is simple, clean and ringing, something you have to hear. Today, when all sounds are mostly artificial, it is really nice to hear something so pure and interesting. Although it is mainly used in folk music, anything can be played on this lovely instrument. There are no limitations, and this can be a real challenge for any music enthusiast. You will surely appreciate these amazing tones.

Today, triangular shaped psalteries are the most popular ones. They are still just very simple wooden boxes, strung with steel wires of different lengths, and, in case of larger instruments, of different gauges as well. Smaller ones mostly have only one string gauge, but still are able to produce very interesting and full tones. In this electronic music era, this tone is more than welcome refreshment.

The beauty of handmade psalteries is in the sound they make. The sound is really clean and lovely. Of course, high quality instruments produce cleaner and more beautiful tones. Another reason for their popularity is their appearance. They look very decorative, and can find their place in any living room. Besides, it is so easy to learn to play, that it really is something everyone should try.

About the Author:

No comments:

Post a Comment