The ''psithyra'' (xylophone)

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The ''psithyra'' (xylophone)


It was a percussion instrument, closely associated with Aphrodite and Eros. It looked like a small ladder. It consisted of a wooden rectangular frame that had a line of vertical rungs of different size (like the xylophone).

The player held it upright by one corner in her left hand while "caressing" the rungs with the tips of her right hand fingers, producing a sensual whisper.

In a different version of the instrument, in the place of the rungs, there were rotating cylindrical rods with incorporated bronze discs in the middle. In this case, with the rapid rotation of the cylinders (via fingers), an extended sound was achieved (similar to that of the rattle ("seistron").

SOURCES: "M.L. West, Ancient Greek Music", "Solon Michailidis, Encyclopaedia of Ancient Greek Music", "Plutarch, Onomasticon".