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cittern (sĭtˈərn), stringed musical instrument of the guitar family having an oval body, a flat back, and a fretted neck. Its strings, made of wire and varying in number, were plucked. It was first made in the Middle Ages and at that time was usually called citole or sitole. The name cittern was given it in the 16th cent. in England, where, as in all western Europe, it was very popular until the early part of the 18th cent. It has also been called cister, cistre, cithern, cithren, citharen, cetera, cither, cithara, gittern, and sittron.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an ancient plucked stringed instrument. The cittern, which had a pear-shaped body, resembled the modern mandolin; it had four to 12 pairs of metal strings and one treble string. It was common in Germany, Italy, and other Western European countries from the 15th to the early 19th century and was especially popular among the urban population in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The instrument was subsequently supplanted by the guitar. Special types of citterns included the archcittern, the tenor cittern, and the English guitar. The cittern is still played in Spain.


Sachs, C. Handbuch der Musikinstrumentenkunde, 2nd ed. Leipzig [1966]. Pages 205–09.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
A 'consort', in Elizabethan terms, consisted of members of the same family of instruments, but both Thomas Morley's First Booke of Consort Lessons (1599) and Philip Rosseter's Lessons for Consort (1609) are scored for a 'broken' or 'mixed' consort; that is, transverse flute or recorder, treble viol, bass viol, cittern, and bandore, with the addition of a treble lute.
His stock of instrumental music would have included keyboard works (overtures, sonatas, exercises, song medleys, dances) and repertoire for flute, violin, guittar (a cittern, or modest fretted instrument like a mandolin), fife, or other popular melodic instruments.
The concert will end with Heila's "Cittern Suite," a cycle of fiddle-inspired songs for cittern, a member of the mandolin family, performed by Heila.
The big band steamed through infectious hits such as El Agua De La Vida and Correla, with a three-piece horns section, cittern and banjo complementing one another seamlessly.
The fiddle is the core instrument featured, but Economy class draws upon a wide variety of acoustic instruments from the mandolin and cittern to a Finnish bagpipe, a jaw harp, and even a dobro.
17 In Renaissance times, what would you have done with a cittern?
Her sixth solo studio outing, it's a pleasure from the first cittern sounds of Awkward Annie to the dying notes of bonus track, The Village Green Preservation Society, penned by Ray Davies and recorded for BBCTV's Jam and Jerusalem.
Executed in the second half of the sixteenth century, the doll possesses an internal mechanism that enables it to play a tiny cittern and to move in time with the music.
The "green-men, and glee-maidens" sing, accompanied by "a prelude of pipe, cittern, and viol, touched with practised minstrelsy" (9:57-58), and "minstrels" and "wandering players, whose theatres had been the halls of noblemen" (9:59) are included among his Merry Mount refugees, "who sang ballads and told tales" (9:61).
"Immediately a prelude of pipe, cittern, and viol, touched with practised minstrelsy, began to play" in "such a mirthful cadence, that the boughs of the May-Pole quivered to the sound." At precisely this moment, Edgar and Edith glance at each other.
The number of instruments recorded afterward in her collection in Portugal bears witness to her predilection for music: organs, harpsichords and clavichords.34 Professional and amateur musicians of all levels and artistic proficiency were employed in great numbers at the Lisbon court--for instance Rodrigo the German and Diogo de Madrid--and were responsible for playing the lute, cittern, tambourine, harp, Indian trumpets and charamelas.