/sit"euhrn/, n.
an old musical instrument related to the guitar, having a flat, pear-shaped soundbox and wire strings.
[1550-60; b. CITHER and GITTERN]

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 plucked stringed musical instrument that was popular in the 16th–18th century. It had a shallow, pear-shaped body with an asymmetrical neck that was thicker under the treble strings. Derived from the citole, a similar 14th- and 15th-century instrument with gut strings, the cittern had four unison courses of wire strings. Diapasons (diapason), additional courses to reinforce the basses of chords, were also common. The strings were hitched to the instrument end and passed over a violin-type, or pressure, bridge. Tuning of the principal strings was B–G–D–E (Italian) or A–G–D–E (French) in the octave below middle C.

      Two bass variants of the cittern, the orpharion and the pandora, or bandore, appeared in the 17th century. The English guitar of the 18th and 19th centuries was a cittern with six courses of strings, the upper two double.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cittern — Cit tern, n. [L.cithara, Gr. kiqa ra. Cf. {Cithara}, {Gittern}.] (Mus.) An instrument shaped like a lute, but strung with wire and played with a quill or plectrum. [Written also {cithern}.] Shak. [1913 Webster] Note: Not to be confounded with… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cittern — [sit′ərn] n. [< CITHER, prob. infl. by ME giterne: see GITTERN] a stringed instrument of the guitar family, pear shaped with a flat back, popular from the 15th to the 18th cent …   English World dictionary

  • Cittern — Woman with cittern , canvas painted 1677 by Pieter van Slingeland (ca. 1630 1691). The cittern or cither (Fr. cistre, It. cetra, Ger. Cister, Sp. cistro, cedra, cítola) is a stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance. Modern scholars debate… …   Wikipedia

  • cittern — n. hist. a wire stringed lutelike instrument usu. played with a plectrum. Etymology: L cithara, Gk kithara a kind of harp, assim. to GITTERN * * * cittern, cittren, on see cithern …   Useful english dictionary

  • cittern — also cithern or cithren noun Etymology: blend of cither and gittern Date: 1566 a Renaissance stringed instrument like a guitar with a flat pear shaped body …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Cittern — Cistre Femme avec cistre (1677) de Pieter van Slingeland (1630 1691) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • cittern — noun A stringed instrument similar to a mandolin …   Wiktionary

  • Cittern — Stringed instrument somewhat like a *lute, played with plectrum. The gittern was a similar instrument but of later date …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • cittern — see GUITAR …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • cittern — n. old musical instrument with strings stretched over a flat sounding box (related to the guitar) …   English contemporary dictionary

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