String instrument

A stringed instrument, also chordophone (Greek CHORD " string " phone " voice ", " sound ") is a musical instrument that one or more strings used for sound generation, stretched between two points. In most cases, the vibrations of a sound amplifying sound box are transferred.

Various pitches can be achieved by either of the strings or compartments, characterized in that for each tone ( at least ) has its own string is present. In any case, the shorter, the tighter stretched and thinner the string, the higher the sound.

  • 2.1 vibrator
  • 2.2 vibration transmission


Strings are probably younger than flutes and Idiophone. The first string instruments had a string. The oldest representations of a music sheet can be found 15,000 year old cave drawings. The simple musical bow with landscaped sound box or reinforced by the mouth of the player's mouth bow is considered as the prototype of all chordophones. It consists of a flexible wooden rod to the ends of a piece of intestine or cord is pulled, so that the rod clamped to the bow. Struck with a small stick or plucked with the fingers, are more fundamental and overtones produced, which can be enhanced by a motor mounted on the bow sound box, such as a calabash.


The oldest surviving stringed instrument is mehrsaitig: 4500 -year-old harp of Queen puabi of Ur. The Sumerians and Egyptians were playing harps that the ancient Greeks knew several lyres that were known cithara and lyre. Bow harps are depicted in the Egyptian Old Kingdom from about 2500 BC on murals and in modified forms still in Africa with a focus on Central Africa ( kundi ) and Uganda ( ennanga ) played. In contrast bow harps in Asia are gauk up on the Burmese saung that ostafghanische Waji and the Central Indian am - baja virtually disappeared. In India, developed from the bow harps the vina said bar zithers and loud instruments. The Middle Kingdom from the 16th century BC added Come angle harp has disappeared in Africa up to the Mauritanian ardin. In the Near East, the spread in the Middle Ages to the 17th century vertical angle harps the smaller harps with horizontal resonance body ( " steppe harps " ) emerged from the Mesopotamian harp chang and Central Asia.


The progression from simple to complex modern bow string instrument has spawned a wide variety of types. But most were only a limited period of time in use, such as in ancient times exceedingly popular lyres. Even Homer describes the four-stringed lyre Phorminx. This stringed instrument consisted of a sound box made of wood, tortoise shells or later from metal, are spanned over the multiple strings. The strings were made ​​of webs ( yokes ), of which the upper cross bar holding the strings and tensed. The strings were parallel to the soundboard. Played was the instrument with the fingers or a pick by plucking or scribing. With the second hand, the strings were damped or shortened, and thus determines the pitch.

The historical lyres, also called Jochlauten belong, with numerous ancient finds on the best-documented instruments of antiquity. The oldest finds have to Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC As the story progresses, the lyre was adapted to the requirements and subject to a variety of conversion. It forms created with up to 15 strings. Around the 8th century BC, it is also known in the Iberian peninsula and later a seven -gurdy is detectable among the Celts. Today's Arab lyres are in Egypt tanbura, in Nubia Kisir, the Red Sea, the simsimiyya. The Leietrn in Ethiopia include the krar and beganna. The mechanically operated hurdy-gurdy has only the name of the old Jochlauten, their strings arrangement corresponds to a violin.


String instruments can be classified systematically in various ways. A common classification is according to the Hornbostel -Sachs classification.

Vibration generation

Another approach is the classification according to the method by which to be excited to vibrate the strings:

  • When plucked the strings with the fingers, a pick or mechanical devices ( keels ) are plucked: without Fingerboard: harp, lyre, lyre, zither Third Bridge
  • With fretboard guitar, electric bass, lute, mandolin, banjo, balalaika, zither, ukulele, saz, oud, bouzouki, sitar
  • With keyboard: harpsichord
  • For stringed instruments, the strings are deleted: with a bow: violin (fiddle ), viola ( viola ), cello, double bass, fiddle, Hardanger fiddle, viola da gamba, psaltery, erhu, nyckelharpa
  • With a wheel: the hurdy-gurdy
  • Some stringed instruments the strings with mallets or hammers are struck: with hand-held mallets: dulcimer
  • With keyboard: Piano, Clavichord
  • And there are instruments whose strings are blown: by the wind: Aeolian Harp
  • With the mouth: Goura

Vibration transmission

The instrument maker is different, regardless of the style of play between three basic types of stringed instruments, and shall in the type of vibration transfer to the body resonance of what has a direct impact on timbre and deployment.

  • As harps describe instruments in which the strings are connected at one end directly to the soundboard of the corpus. The string tension while playing multiple strings thus acts through a minimal distortion directly on their physical properties and changes in these chaotic variations, which is responsible for the typical "floating" sound of harps. The attachment of the strings at the other end takes place on a massive neck, which makes the harp along with the front bar to a very massive instrument, the vibration can be through direct contact with dance or concert floor spread very space-filling as a natural amplifier.
  • As zithers describe instruments where there is no direct contact of the vibrating strings to the soundboard is. The transmission takes place via the thick side ( blocks ) where the strings are attached and by which the soundboard is directly connected. The typical sound is created from the interaction between the soundboard and bricks which can increase considerably through a co- resonant support surface ( table zither ) and distribute widely. Some zithers not have their own soundboard and therefore need for sound generation such external resonator.
  • As sounds instruments are designated by a neck in which the string vibration is transmitted to the soundboard via a footbridge. The sound development carried out by the soundboard and from her vibrated air particles.

Therefore, the crate bass belongs to this classification to the class of harps, zithers the dulcimer is assigned to, and the violin is an instrument from the group of sounds.

This purely structural engineering classification is only very limited for the general description of individual instruments, because it seems to contradict the normal understanding. There is also a large number of mixed forms, the piano is thus a zither without soundboard and the Japanese harp ( koto ) structurally seen a zither whose vibration transmission though, and for moving webs, but no neck.