Lyra: originally called Chelys, because of the tortoise shell used as its sound box.
According to Nicomachus of Gerasa (Ist cent. AD), the tortoise-shell Lyra was invented by god Hermes, who gave it to Orpheus.
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The addition of an eighth string in the 6th century BC is credited by Nicomachus of Gerasa to Pythagoras. By the fifth century there were Lyras with anything from 9 to 12 strings. The strings (neura) were made of animal gut of sinew, but there are also references of strings made of linen or hemp.Lyra was mainly used for the musical education of the young, and by amateur players in general. Cithara plucked instrument with 5 strings originally, but later with as many as 12 strings. Cithara was bigger than the Lyra and it was the principal concert instrument played by professional musicians, the citharodes. According to Plutarch, cithara was designed by Cepion, a student of Terpander.
Many instrument names like guitar, cittern, zither etc. derive from the word cithara. Barbitos or Barbiton is an instrument of the Lyra family and resembles a Lyra, but it has longer arms and narrower sound box.Musicians of the School of Lesbos, like Alcaeus and Sappho, are frequently depicted in vases playing the Barbitos. Phorminx probably the oldest of the Cithara type instruments. From references in ancient sources (Homer, Hesiod, Aristophanes) we know that Phorminx was richly decorated with gold and ivory, and accompanied the singing of the epic singers called rhapsodes. Epigonion belongs to the psaltery family and it is the instrument with the largest number of strings, sometimes as many as forty (Polydeuces).
It may owe its name to the fact that it was played 'on the knee' - Greek 'epi gonu', or maybe because its inventor was someone named Epigonus. Pandouris or pandourion, also called trichord because it had three strings, is the first fretted instrument known, forerunner of the various families of lutes worldwide
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