String Instruments


Zithers and Gusli belong to the group of string plucked music instruments. The name “zither” comes from the ancient Greek word "κιθάρα" and the Latin “cithara”. Instrument consists of a flat wooden case and stretched strings. The number of strings depends on the zither’s size and can range from 17 up to 45 strings. Instruments of similar construction are known from the antiquity.

In China “Guqin” is considered the ancestor of the zithers, and in Japan, it was “Koto”. A zither was very popular in medieval Europe. In the sixteenth century, it became the second most popular instrument after a lute. Later in the XVIII century, the instrument was updated. The instrument was imported to Russia in the second half of the XIX century. Specialists distinguish a treble zither, a bass zither and a concert zither.
Gusli is one of the most ancient musical instruments, which existed under different names among all nations. It was known in Europe and in the East (Ancient Greek kifar, Armenian canon, Finnish kanfele, Latvian kokle, and Lithuanian kankles). Gusli sounds due to strings and a soundboard that resonates the sound. According to the shape and design, Gusli can be divided into two groups: winglike and helm-shaped.
There exists a hypothesis that Chinese "Guqin" that appeared BC was the ancestor of Gusli. The origin of the name of the instruments’ group is often associated with the ancient name of the bowstring - "gusla". Gusli was an indispensable attribute of the ancient Russian folk tales and legends; Gusli was a musical instrument that the famous heroes of the Russian epos played.