The Dark Lyre of Sappho – Ancient Greek Barbiton Lyre (9 strings) – Top Quality HandCrafted Musical Instrument
“Some say the Muses are nine: how careless! Look, there’s Sappho too, from Lesbos, the tenth.” – Plato, epigram in the Anthologia Palatina
If you ever thought of having a unique ancient artefact in your home or even learn how to play an ancient music instrument, then you never had an opportunity like this before… This listing is for a replica of the ancient Greek lyre, the barbiton type, which is named after the Greek poet Sappho (well known for her poetry, full of passion and eroticism). This is the black version of the instrument (therefore the name: “Dark Lyre of Sappho”).
Sappho sang her poetry with the help of a barbiton lyre on the Greek island of Lesbos over 2500 years ago. Throughout the Greek world, her contemporaries composed lyric poetry full of passion, and in the centuries that followed the golden age of archaic lyric, new forms of poetry emerged.
For this, barbiton lyres was the main instrument during the ancient symposium and the Dionysian orgies, thanks to its deeper and sweeter sound (due to the greater length of its strings, compared to chelys lyres). Until the 4th century B.C. the barbiton lyres were disappeared from Ancient Greece to be re-introduced by the Romans mainly for sacrificial rituals.
Manufactured at the premises of the ancient Europos (Northern Greece) by a family of musicians and luthiers, the “Dark Lyre of Sappho” is made of (and only) natural materials available during the antiquity. This ancient artefact was evolved to become a modern music instrument ready to be used by both amateur and professional musicians (for example, a modern tuning method was chosen instead of the ancient hard-to-use one). For all the minor (but very important) alterations, latest technologies were used during the prototyping phase (such as 3d Scanning and 3d Modeling).
This lyre has 9 strings. The soundbox is made to look like a tortoise shell and to produce rich sound, the arm, the tailpiece, the crossbar, the tuning keys and the bridge by wood, the sound-board by animal skin, and the plectrum by wood. The lyre’s height is 77 cm with 44 cm width, its soundbox dimensions are 20 x 16,5 x 8,5 cm, while the length of its vibrating strings is 65 cm (the lyricist can adjust it by 3-5 cm).
We use only top quality kinds of wood, ideal for musical instruments, such as walnut, cherry, mahogany, mulberry, maple, ebony etc. In case you are interested to learn what specific kinds of wood we used for this specific lyre’s parts, don’t hesitate to ask us!
Along with every lyre, a handbook is provided including all the different ancient Greek scales (for tuning the lyre) in the Aristoxenian tradition such as the Mixolydian, the Phrygian, the Dorian etc. What’s more, the oldest music melodies that had survived are also included such as the Hellenistic “Seikilos Epitaph” (2.000 years old, the oldest known complete melody of the human kind), and further descriptions regarding what modes were used in the antiquity for evoking specific feelings such as sorrow, happiness, bravery etc. Last, a full-color 68-pages book (in the form of a .pdf file) will be given upon request, with more than 100 photos, describing the research behind our lyres and the whole design process.
Since the beginning of 2015, every Luthieros lyre comes with a wooden plectrum, an extra set of nylon strings and a unique hand-strap (in Greek: “τελαμών”). A premium package, for a premium and authentic music instrument! A beautifully handmade premium wooden case for storing and moving around the instrument is also available here.
The lyres available for purchase are very limited. Needles to say that no animals were harmed…
“Solon of Athens heard his nephew sing a song of Sappho’s over the wine and, since he liked the song so much, he asked the boy to teach it to him. When someone asked him why, he said: ‘So that I may learn it, then die.’ “- Florilegium (3.29.58) of Stobaeus
| Learn how to play the ancient Greek lyre!
Michael Levy, the most well-known ancient lyre player around the world, put together for us 11 video lessons (available online at our website). No matter if you are a completely amateur or a professional music player, you can play the lyre following Michael’s steps: http://en.luthieros.com/learn-to-play-the-lyre
| Hear how our ancient lyres sound:
(1) Hear how the “Game of Thrones” theme song would sound like if it was played in Ancient Greece (must-see), hear audio recordinga from various of our lyres, or watch players around the world playing ancient melodies with Luthieros Music Instruments: http://en.luthieros.com/be-inspired-by-players-around-the-world
(2) Check the latest music album by world-known lyre player, Michael Levy, using Luthieros’ Lyre of Apollo! Support his music on iTunes or his website: http://www.ancientlyre.com/
| Check a short presentation of “The Lyre 2.0 Project”:
https://vimeo.com/85653759 (in English)
| Read the extended review of one of our lyres by the most well-known ancient lyre player around the world: http://www.ancientlyre.com/the_lyre_20_project/
* Dozens of music instruments around the world are direct descendants of the ancient Greek lyre: gue (Scotland), rote (England), crwth (Wales), hearpe (Germanic or Anglo-Saxon lyre), giga (Norway), talharpa (Estonia), jouhikko (Finland), knar (Armenia), lutnia (Poland), kinnor (Israel), sarangi (Nepal), sammu or tanbura or zami or zinar (Iraq, Arabian peninsula, Yemen), barbat or ektara (Pakistan), ektara (India and Bangladesh), nares-jux (Siberia), chang (Iran), kissar or tanbura or simsimiyya (Egypt, Sudan), begena or dita or krar (Ethiopia), endongo or ntongoli (Uganda), kibugander or litungu or nyatiti or obokano (Kenya) and litungu (Tanzania).
** Minor alterations might be present in the final instrument (regarding the colour or the kind of wood that was used for smaller parts) that you will receive in comparison with our website’s images. For this reason, every instrument from the Luthieros team is undoubtedly unique. In case though you want the exact model that was photographed, please state it during the checkout! 🙂