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BOWED PSALTERY

This instrument is pronounced "saltery" and is a "conjectural" bowed instrument. With its distinctive triangular shape it was reconstructed in the 20th Century from ideas in early drawings. It is basically a bowed version of the ancient plucked psaltery, with the strings re-arranged so that a simple horsehair bow can be passed between the pegs on each side to

Photograph of the bowed Psaltery

Bowed Psaltery Sound Clips

Wav

play clip: 150 kb

MP3

play clip: 93 kb

Large printable image of the bowed psaltery

Large detail photograph of the bowed psaltery

  sound each string individually. There is no fretting: each string is simply tuned to a different note (the scale of C on one side with the "accidentals" - the sharps and the flats - on the other). It gives a delightfully high, echoing, ethereal sound - or, if you don't like it, it sets your teeth on edge! The example in the photograph and the sound clip was made by Bob Christian from Cornwall, England.

Text copyright © James McCafferty 2000 Photographic images copyright © John Credland and James McCafferty 2000