Lira Calabrese

The lira Calabrese is an ancient bowed instrument that is played standing upright and resting in the lap of the player. It is one of a family of similar instruments played throughout the Mediterranean and Adriatic. Similar instruments are found in Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and North Africa, but they range as far as Nepal and Mongolia. This version comes from Southern Italy, namely the province of Calabria. Only the first string is fretted, and it is fretted by pushing on the side of it with the fingernail rather than pushing down on it. The middle string acts as a drone and is played in unison with the first string which is playing a melody. The third string is the fifth of the scale and is also a drone, played when the chord changes. The back and neck of the lira Calabrese are carved from a single piece of wood, much like a wooden spoon, and the top is a separate piece of spruce or pine. There is usually a sound post made of wood or bone, which helps to amplify the sound. I have only made one lira Calabrese, mostly out of curiosity and my inability to obtain one. I have since befriended a maker in Italy and if you are interested, I can put you in touch.

Sound Samples