Lyre Music

Making it, listening to it, words, music sheets, making instruments

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Lyre Music

Post by reynoldgreenleaf »

My son has just completed a basic Sutton Hoo lyre fascimile - it is far from a reconstruction but the dimensions are similar and is strung with nylon guitar strings. Its sounds good and looks the biz.

What I was wondering is where could I find out what sort of music was played on such an instrument? We block and strum as well as pluck, but are messing only with songs we know rather than period music.

Any pointers?


Eric the well read
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Post by Eric the well read »

Suggest you contact Thor Ewing, (on this site)
He's about the best lyre player I know -Really nice bloke


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Alex Clayphan
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Post by Alex Clayphan »

the other possibility is to contact archeologica musica of cambridge as they have produced period music for anglo-saxon/viking period
Life - funny old thing ain't it?

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Thor Ewing
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Post by Thor Ewing »

Ah, if only we knew . . .
There are various sources of evidence for what sort of thing might have been played, but nothing definite. So it's a matter of working from what we do know, and trying to fill the gaps in the simplest way.

The most important thing is to be aware that the only recorded tuning for a (six-string) lyre gives you the bottom six notes of the major scale - Because of the way it is described, I am fairly convinced that this was the standard tuning if not the only tuning. Having said that, if you are happier playing in a different tuning, I wouldn't let it stop you. It really depends how much you are doing this for pleasure, and how hung up you are on getting it as authentic as possible (in the knowledge that you can never know how far you are from getting it right!).

Whilst there are very few surviving melodies from the first millennium, I find that many tunes from thirteenth-century sources fit the six notes of the lyre (and these are much easier to get hold of). Perhaps some of these tunes are older than the words they accompany - words are generally more datable than tunes.

Technique? Strum rather than pluck. By resting the fingers of your left hand against the strings, you'll be able to deaden the ones you want silent.

Best wishes,

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