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(zĭth`ər), stringed musical instrument, derived from the psalterypsaltery
, stringed musical instrument. It has a flat soundboard over which a variable number of strings are stretched. Its origin was in the Middle East, and it is referred to in the Bible. It appeared in Europe in the 12th cent. and flourished until the late Middle Ages.
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 and the dulcimerdulcimer
, stringed musical instrument. It is a wooden box with strings stretched over it that are struck with small mallets. The number of strings may vary. The dulcimer is related to the psaltery and modern zither.
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. It has a flat sound box over which are stretched from 30 to 45 strings; these are plucked with the fingers and a plectrum. In the 18th cent. one or both sides began to be curved to produce greater sonority. The term zither is also used generically for various instruments, including the dulcimer, the psaltery, and several Asian instruments. The dulcimer in use in the Kentucky mountains is, in fact, a zither.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a stringed instrument played by plucking. The zither has an irregularly shaped flat wooden body. Two sides of the soundboard, one long and one short, form a right angle; opposite them lie a convex and a concave side. Along the long straight side is a fretted fingerboard over which are stretched four or five metal strings that are plucked with a plectrum worn on the thumb of the right hand. Beyond the fingerboard are 25 to 40 gut strings, which are played with the remaining fingers of the right hand. The zither was known in several ancient countries and had a different number of strings. The zither has been known in Western Europe since the late 18th century and was especially popular in 19th-century Germany and Austria. The instrument appeared in Russia in the second half of the 19th century.


Iodko, V. Tsitra. Kratkii istoricheskii ocherk i opisanie instrumenta. Moscow, 1914.
Modr, A. Muzykal’nye instrumenty. Moscow, 1959. Pages 56–58.
Brandlmeier, J. Handbuch der Zither. Munich [1963].
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a plucked musical instrument consisting of numerous strings stretched over a resonating box, a few of which may be stopped on a fretted fingerboard
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Perhaps the most celebrated ancient living tradition in China today is that of the seven-stringed plucked zither qin (Yung 1993,1995; Gulik 1940).
While instruments such as flute (dizi), mouth-organ (sheng) and the plucked zither (zheng) are indigenous and ancient, many instruments were sinified from Central Asian origins during the medieval period.
Several different types of notation survive in China (Kaufmann 1967): in theoretical works; in scores for the qin zither and the Confucian ritual music; and in scores of vocal dramatic music or for instrumental ensemble.
Apart from scores for the qin zither and Kunqu opera, the 1746 Jiugong dacheng NanBei ci gongpu (illus.
The public and private palace and literati music of the last imperial dynasty, the Qing, included Kunqu opera, the qin zither, the `Thirteen suites for strings' (Xiansuo shisan tao) of Beijing (Xiansuo beikao score, 1814, see illus.
The scene in which "Yingying Listens to the Zither" portrays the moment when the lovers realize their love and exemplifies how the illustrator echoes the editor's perspective.
This invisible zither focuses the contrast between the lovers' physical separation and their emotional union.
To imply that the music penetrates the wall and connects the lovers, the illustrator puts Zhang and Yingying within the circumference of the metaphorical zither. As mentioned above, the zither's seven strings are strung from the "mountain" to the "dragon's gum," in between which are thirteen markers (shisan hui) that identify the spots on the strings that produce partial tones.
290-235 BCE) records in Lu's Annals (Lushi chunqiu) that Zhong Ziqi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], understands the zither musician Yu Boya's [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] thoughts through his music.
(20) Around 1900, Wagner makes an appearance within the sphere of traditional romantic songs when Elsa's "Fuhl ich zu dir so suss mein Herz entbrennen" from Lohengrin is included in an anthology with pieces for zither, kept today at the Sudtiroler Landesmuseum fur Volkskunde (South Tyrolean Folklore Museum) in Dietenheim.
It was then that one of the musicians began a song -- a Moravian folk-song, said Libuse -- to the accompaniment of a zither. The general conversation died away.
It was with difficulty and the help of a member of the music department of the BBC that I discovered that there was, or had been, a Czech who taught the zither; and later I succeeded in locating him at the end of a dark alley in Charlotte Street in a room that had a narrow bed, a chair, and a small table.