Strange Strings From Around the World

by Frederik Nielsen, Apr 18, 2018 . 4 min read

Strange Strings From Around the World

The world is full of strange things, but did you know it is also full of strange strings? The lute and harp are

of course the precursors for our modern-day guitars, but before people arrived at something they could rock out with, their innovative ideas took many strange turns. Let’s have a look at what each continent came up with…

Crwth (Europe)

The Welsh, known as much for their affinity for consonants as they are for their aversion to vowels, came up with this instrument. And that name. For those of us who are not well-versed in Gaelic, it’s known as a “crowd”. The earliest depictions of this instrument are from the 11th century, and back then it was the second most popular instrument after the harp. This is likely due to the fact that Wales at that time was mainly populated by cherubs (don’t quote me on that).

Mayuri (Asia)

Would you look at that? A peacock with strings. It’s actually a long-necked lute (derived from the esraj) attached to a peacock figurine, and it was popular in Indian courts during the 19th century. There are a few reasons for that. The first one is that the peacock (‘Mayuri’, in Hindi) is a symbol of India. Another one is that peacocks are associated with Saraswati, the goddess of music. Finally, peacocks are (you guessed it) associated with courtship – so grab your peacock and get ready to woo that special someone!

Kora (Africa)

Think six strings is too few? Try 21 of them. You’ll need two hands, 11 strings for the left and 10 for the right. The African kora is a hybrid between a lute and a harp, developed in the 14th century. Traditional kora players were called ‘Jali’, which is a bard spreading oral traditions. The kora is also featured in Senegal’s national anthem Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons, but isn’t limited to Senegal alone: it’s widely played across West Africa. (Oh how we would love to tune this bad boy with a Roadie!)

Sasando (Oceania)

Hailing from Indonesia, the sasando is made from bamboo and palmyra leaves, and beats the kora by at least seven strings. Actually, it goes all the way up to 56 strings; so you might want to invite a couple of friends over in case you want to jam. Legend has it that  a boy named Sangguana invented this instrument. Apparently; he fell asleep underneath a palmyra tree and  a beautiful sound woke him from his dream. Kind of like an Indonesian Isaac Newton.

Charango (South America)

Another member of the lute family is the charango, originating from the Quechua and Aymara populations in South America. Derived from the stringed instruments introduced to them via Spanish colonisers, it can today be found throughout the continent; from Eucador to Argentina. Its small size makes it a particularly handy choice for mini mariachis, so if you weren’t sold on any of the ukuleles I’ve written about – this one’s for you.

Harpitar (North America)

Only in America. For Brooklynite R. E. Bates, the guitar was nice, but not loud enough. There were no guitar amps back in 1918, so he decided to create this Franken-instrument in order to project his tunes far and wide. The end result, according to the man himself; “combines the simple chromatic scale of the guitar with the peculiarly beautiful tones of the harp.”

Enjoyed Strange Strings From Around the World? Share your thoughts in the comments below!



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

Johnny Cash, one of country music’s most influential singers sadly passed away in 2003; His words and music live on, continuing to have a profound effect on listeners.

Evan Ceretti
Jun 14, 2021 . 5 min read

Wondering what are the 5 most covered songs of all time? Spoiler alert! They’re not the ones you would think.

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 7, 2021 . 4 min read

These 5 inspirational books for musicians can be considered modern classics. They are a fantastic resource to feed our drive and keep us inspired.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 3, 2021 . 4 min read

The 5 jazz albums every music fan should have are a collection of incredible music by incredible artists. These records marked a moment in history and continue to inspire generations of music lovers across the globe.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 30, 2021 . 4 min read

Ever since its launch in May 2020, Roadie 3 received overwhelming support from publications, YouTubers,  social influencers, and musicians. With many of them expressing their thoughts on the next generation tuning device to their followers.

Hussein El Annan
Mar 26, 2021 . 6 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!