Ken, so many sounds comes from these lyre's of different countries. I'm learning so much...thank you. I LOVE learning the history of anything, especially musical instruments. I'm sure you would play it differently as well. One Lyre I saw on youtube was as tall as the woman playing it. yep, only 5 or 6 strings. aloha, irene
Oberflacht Lyre Finished
All of the Anglo-Saxon Lyres were all-wood. No skin heads. The construction is always "carved body" with a separate soundboard inlet into the body. The hollow body extending part way up the arms.
I take back what I said about soundholes. I was looking at info about the Trossingen Lyre -- the most complete archeological find and elaborately decorated. I had forgotten that it had 8 or 10 small (1/8"?) soundholes spaced around the bridge position. But this was apparently the only AS lyre found with soundholes.
VERY interesting. This leaves much food for thought...and I've not even had breakfast!! Thank you for showing the tuning key. In the gravesites, were most of them all wood? or were some covered with a "skin" like some banjo's were? I'd be very interested to hear the sound of these. hummmmmmmmm. gonna look on youtube. aloha, irene
Nope -- no sound holes. Almost none of those found in burial sites in England or Germany had sound holes.
Here's a picture of the tuning key, based on the original found in the gravesite. Unlike keys for autoharp pins, you apply the rotation in-line with the peg, pushing in as you turn. I would think you could make a similar key for any wooden peg instrument.
I used Tung Oil as a finish for the Lyre. I like it a lot more than urethane or other "varnishes".
Ken, this really is a beautiful instrument. AS I look at all the pictures again, I don't see a sound hole. and interesting how you tell of the wrench that tunes the pegs. I wish I could see a picture of that too. When I first worked with Myrtle wood....looked like packing crate material...but putting on a varnish........wheeeeeeee. Maybe I'll get someone to send me some Myrtle wood. You're and inspiration. aloha, irene
Supposedly builders and their instruments start to look alike.
Oh no, wait. That's dogs and their owners.
Dusty T., Northern California
As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
ahhhhh, way cool. If you look on this photo, next to the banjo above it is a lyre. And that is what I use it for as well. I just chord it and sing a song. When I show my Lyre to friends, I'll say, "this is a Lyre, and I'm telling you the truth." I know, bad joke, but I have fun with it. aloha, irene
Irene -- of course I play it! It's tuned "pentatonic+" -- do, re, me, sol, la, do'. The instrument is from the 8th century -- back when there really were no sing-and-play "songs. There were chants - Church chants, chanted audio-books like the sagas, Beowulf, the Poetic Edda, etc. The Lyre was used for dramatic flourishes in a story, as well as a mnemonic device so that the skald/bard could remember where -- in hundreds or thousands of verses -- he was at any given point in the tale.
Just a followup to my previous "getting started with this Lyre" post. The Myrtle wood turned out to have some fabulous 'tiger stripe' effect in it. The Port Orford Cedar is a great wood for doing the kolrose decoration on. I have it tuned D3, E3, F#3, A4, B4, C4 with acoustic guitar nylon 2nd & 3rd strings.
John Knopf made the tuning pegs for me -- great job, and the tuning wrench he made to fit them, following the plans, works perfectly.
updated by @ken-hulme: 10/27/19 12:02:25PM