Lira cretese



The Cretan lyra is the most popular melody instrument on the island of Crete. It is a bowed instrument similar to the violin, and it usually has three strings which are tuned in fifths. The lyra players play the lyra in an upright position. They sometimes rest it on the kneee, or, if they are standing, they will put one foot up on a chair and rest the lyra on the thigh. They have an unusual way of fingering the strings. Instead of pressing the strings with the finger tips (like violinists or guitarists do), they press against the sides of the strings with the tops of their finger nails. Sometimes the lyra players play unaccompanied, and it was not uncommon for the bow to have small bells attached to lend a rhythmic accompaniment to the melodies as the lyratzis played his lyra. The most common instrument used to accompany the lyra is the Cretan laouto, which is typically larger than the mainland laouto and tuned lower. The Cretan laouto players often play melodies with the lyra rather then just chords and rhythm. Sometimes two laoutos accompany the lyra, with one playing melody and the other playing rhythm and chords.


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