Kithara

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  • Kithara

    Kithara, musical instrument, a type of lyre, adapted by ancient Greeks from older Near Eastern and North African models. In Greek mythology the kithara was regarded as the instrument of Apollo and Orpheus. The body of the kithara consisted of a trapezoid-shaped wooden box about 41 cm (about 16 in) high and about 36 cm (about 14 in) wide at the base. Two wooden arms projected vertically from each side, almost doubling the instrument`s height. The seven strings of the classical kithara were attached to the lower end of the box and extended to a horizontal yoke, or "crossbar," fixed at the end of each arm. The instrument was played in a standing position, rested on the musician`s left hip and strapped to the left wrist. The fingers of the left hand were free to pluck, dampen, or strum the strings from behind while the right hand plucked with a "plectrum," or pick, from in front. A smaller version of the instrument, with a rounded bottom, could be held in the lap. The kithara was the instrument of professional musicians, who used it in singing lyric and epic poetry, in choral accompaniment, and in displays of virtuosic skill. The Romans adopted the kithara for use in the theater and at banquets and religious observances.

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