Zither is string strummed instrument, in Austria and Germany known from XVIII
century, come to Latvia in the second half of XIX century.
Chordzither with 4 chords
Chord zithers are played everywhere in Latvia, but most popular they are in
Vidzeme. A zither consists of a rectangular body, on which strings are
grouped in chords. The necessary chord is played with a
mediator, the other hand simultaneously silencing the previous chord.
Most popular are chord zithers with 7 chords.
Usually chord zither contains only major chords.
Cylindrical chord zither
Cylindrical chord zither contains all 12 major chords and represents an
optimized type of a chord zither.
Zither with manual
Zither with a manual (so-called pedal zither) has trapezium body, on which
strained strings are placed according the height of sounding. Perpendicularly
above the strings
a manual table with 3-10 manuals is attached - so called buttons or keys.
By pressing a
manual, unnecessary strings are muffled and a "ready" major or minor chord is
In Vidzeme and Northern Latgalia also combined or "halfmajor" zithers are made.
A part of their strings is grouped on-chord, but others are used for
performance of the melody.
Seldom, basically in cities, Austrian and German elegical zithers have been played,
having a typical neck (similar to the neck of a guitar), on which
4-5 strings are stretched and near by, on the sounding board, 25-40 strings of
accompaniment are situated.
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