The ''sambyke'' (sambuca)

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The ''sambyke'' (sambuca)


It was a sensual stringed instrument which accompanied symposiums and orgiastic cults. Similar in form to the homonymous siege machine mounted on a ship, it was probably invented by the poet Ibykos around the 6th century B.C. and was first played at feasts by the wandering Sybillis.

It consisted of a soundbox (made from tortoise-shell or from wood of the same form and a long wooden or horn arc-shaped arm. It usually had eight strings which ran from a hidden tailpiece (along and under the stretched leather surface of the soundbox) and tightened on the tuning pegs of the arm.

The player (usually a woman) plucked the strings with the fingers of both hands.

SOURCES: "M.L. West, Ancient Greek Music", "Curt Sachs, The History of Musical Instruments", "Plutarch, On Music", "Athenaeus of Naucratis, Deipnosophistai" "Julius Pollux, Onomasticon", "Nicomachus, "Manual of Harmonics", Aristoxenus of Tarentum, "On Instruments".