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generic term for stringed musical instruments having a sound box from which project curved arms joined by a crossbar. The strings are stretched between the crossbar and the sound box and are plucked with the fingers or with a plectrum. In ancient times Sumer, Babylonia, Israel, and Egypt had various sorts of lyres. Ancient Greece had two lyres—the kitharakithara
or cithara
, musical instrument of the ancient Greeks. It was a plucked instrument, a larger and stronger form of the lyre, used by professional musicians both for solo playing and for the accompaniment of poetry and song.
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, which was the larger instrument used by the professional musician, and the lyra, the smaller instrument of the amateur. Each had from 3 to 12 strings, made of hemp. The tuning and playing techniques of modern lyres in E Africa are thought to be similar to those of ancient Greece and Egypt. After the 10th cent. the lyres of N European countries were bowed instead of being plucked. The bowed lyre that persisted longest was the Welsh crwth, known as early as the 11th cent. and still in use in the early 19th cent. At some time in its history a fingerboard was added, making it an early member of the violin family.



an ancient Greek plucked string instrument with a flat body and curved sides and seven to 11 strings. It was tuned to a five-tone scale. The lyre was played as an accompaniment to the recitation of epic and lyric poetry (hence the term “lyric”). Metaphorically, the lyre is the emblem or symbol of the arts.



1. an ancient Greek stringed instrument consisting of a resonating tortoise shell to which a crossbar was attached by two projecting arms. It was plucked with a plectrum and used for accompanying songs
2. any ancient instrument of similar design
3. a medieval bowed instrument of the violin family
References in periodicals archive ?
One of the lyres was a copy of an instrument discovered in the grave of a seventh century nobleman; another was based on an instrument found in the Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo.
The objects attached to the lyre also reflect the eclectic geographical positioning of Nubia, linking North Africa and the Mediterranean with lands to the south.
He bobbed his large head in time to Ganymede's lyre strings.
Lyre wrote the poem in 1847 and set it to music while he lay dying from tuberculosis; he survived only three weeks after its completion.
Her poems are in Boston Review, Threepenny Review, POOL, Pank, Lyre Lyre, Ping Pong Journal (of the Henry Miller Memorial Library).
After he returns in a daze to his cold living room in the "madness scene" of Act III, it is hard to repress chuckles when the lyre creeps into his living room in a cloud of smoke.
BREW Tea by Harp and Lyre is one of the producers at the Fenwick's event
The small wooden fragment thought to be from a 2,300-year-old lyre was found at an excavation site in High Pasture Cave on the Isle of Skye
According to the Mishna, in those days people blew trumpets, strummed harps and lyres, played the flute and beat the cymbal.
The mythical musical hero, whose skill with the lyre calmed savage beasts and made trees dance, was born in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains, which stretch all the way to Greece.
At the end of the Lyre closest to Altair, between Gamma Lyrae and the interesting variable star Beta Lyrae, glimmers one of the most famous deep-sky ornaments of summer: M57, the Ring Nebula.
Through an analysis of "La Lyre," then, this study will attempt to describe more fully Ronsard's understanding of Horace's thoughts on the process of imaginative writing which, reworked by sixteenth-century commentators and theorists, enabled him to present the dynamics of poetic creativity classical in concept but Renaissance in interpretation.