Lyre of Sappho (8 strings) – ancient Greek barbiton lyre
“Some say the Muses are nine: how careless! Look, there’s Sappho too, from Lesbos, the tenth.” – Plato, epigram in the Anthologia Palatina
This is a replica of a Barbiton lyre, named after the ancient Greek poet Sappho (well known for her poetry, full of passion and eroticism). It was during her time (6th century B.C.) that an eighth string was introduced to the ancient lyres. Barbiton lyre was used throughout Greece, and especially in Lesbos.
LUTHIEROS Barbiton Lyre has 8 strings, and so a chromatic range of a full octave! This is why it is ideal for anyone willing to enter the world of ancient music for the first time. Furthermore, it is a very capable musical instrument for an advanced musician too, willing to make the transition from western music to the ancient one!
Barbiton lyres were the main instrument during the ancient symposium and the Dionysian orgies, thanks to its deeper and sweeter sound (due to the greater length of its strings, compared to chelys lyres). Until the 4th century B.C., the barbiton lyres were disappeared from ancient Greece to be re-introduced by the Romans mainly for sacrificial rituals.
“Solon of Athens heard his nephew sing a song of Sappho’s over the wine and, since he liked the song so much, he asked the boy to teach it to him. When someone asked him why, he said: ‘So that I may learn it, then die.’ “- Florilegium (3.29.58) of Stobaeus
Endorsed by the Best
Great performers using LUTHIEROS Barbiton Lyre
^ LUTHIEROS barbiton lyre played by Dr Nikos Xanthoulis (Associated Researcher at the Academy of Athens).
Historic Accuracy & Playability
It's not a battle. It's about finding the right balance.
^ A female oinochoe (wine pitcher) playing a barbiton lyre with 8 strings. Terracotta red-figure, 490-480 B.C. Ιnscription in Greek: "He is beautiful; She is beautiful." Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum.
< A female oinochoe (wine pitcher) playing a barbiton lyre with 8 strings. Terracotta red-figure, 490-480 B.C. Ιnscription in Greek: "He is beautiful; She is beautiful." Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum.
Bringing Ancient Artifacts Back to Life
To handcraft premium ancient-replicas with a focus to the modern musician, you have to research a lot, analyze hundreds of ancient depictions, build a lot of prototypes, test them with great musicians, etc.
And all of these, to conclude to meaningful compromises that have to be made, that are both deeply justified and make sense in terms of usability/playability. All in all, our ultimate goal is to serve the modern musician, and to bring ancient artifacts back to life as fully functional musical instruments.
Manufactured at the premises of the ancient Europos (Northern Greece) by a family of musicians and luthiers, the LUTHIEROS Barbiton Lyre is made exclusively using natural materials available during the antiquity. All parts are made of quality wood with great musicality, while the tuning pegs are made by ebony and mulberry wood, the bottom part of the strings are attached to animal skin, while the plectrum is manufactured by wood.
This ancient artifact was evolved to become a modern musical instrument ready to be used by both amateur and professional musicians. For all the minor (but very important) alterations, top-notch technologies were used during the prototyping phase (such as 3d Modeling and rapid prototyping) as part of University-based research by members of LUTHIEROS family. Key collaborations include the International Hellenic University and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Robinson, D.M. (1938). Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum U.S.A.: volume 3, The Robinson Collection, Harvard University Press.
Koumartzis et al. (2015). A New Music Instrument from Ancient Times: Modern Reconstruction of the Greek Lyre of Hermes using 3D Laser Scanning, Advanced Computer Aided Design and Audio Analysis. Journal of New Music Research. 44. 324-346.
Maas, M. & McIntosh Snyder, J. (1989). Stringed Instruments of Ancient Greece, New Haven.
Various authors (2012). Greek Musical Instruments: Research in visual and written sources (2000 B.C. - 2000 A.D.), Teloglion Foundation, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Our research is featured in major media:
With Each Order You Will Receive
Tuning and maintenance guide
Every instrument handcrafted by LUTHIEROS is shipped with sugarcane strings, mindfully sanctioned to match the needs of our ancient-inspired musical instruments by the world-renowned “Aquila Corde Armoniche.” We choose sugarcane strings as a default due to their soothing sound, and durability.
Additionally, you can order our Premium Gut Strings here, explicitly produced for LUTHIEROS musical instruments in collaboration with top string manufacturers around Europe.
A pack of extras
Including a wooden plectrum, along with extra small gifts to say "thank you" for making our family's dream possible!
40+ ancient melodies
A book with 40+ ancient melodies that survives to this day, plus all the different ancient Greek modes according to Aristoxenus: Mixolydian, Phrygian, Dorian, etc. Find out what modes were used during the antiquity for evoking specific feelings such as sorrow, happiness, bravery, etc.
Ancient music album
A music album featuring some of the most talented performers around the world, with authentic ancient melodies and modern compositions.
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"All of these beautiful lyres, lovingly hand-crafted by Luthieros are indeed, divine artifacts, reintroduced into the modern world… " - Michael Levy, a world-renowned lyre player. Read his extended review here.
"Electric guitars are very often provided with vibrato, tremolo or whammy bars. That concept was in fact invented by the ancient Greeks twenty four hundred years ago. Kithara was a musical instrument very popular during the Golden Age of Ancient Greece. This is a reproduction that was made by the Greek master luthier Anastasios Koumartizis of Luthieros Music Instruments." - Peter Pringle, a professional Canadian musician, and well-known ancient instruments player. Watch his extended video review here.
"Can't be happier with my lyre! Learning how to play this amazing piece of art! The lyre has amazing finishes and you can feel it's made with love and skilfull hands." - Jaume Gual Bennàssar, Balearic Islands, Spain (verified review through Etsy.com).
Our family is world-renowned for its dedication, love and care. Here are some amazing reviews concerning our whole product range!
"It’s handcrafted with such care and the materials are fine and well chosen. It arrived to us safely all the way from Greece and we were able to track it all the way so we always knew what was happening." - Rachel Loeb, Los Angeles, U.S.A. (verified review through Etsy.com).
"Amazing company! I was very skeptical about ordering an instrument online but it was packaged very safely and arrived in such a timely manner! Luthieros also has some of the best communication skills I've ever encountered with a company, I had many questions that were all answered with great detail shortly after I asked them." - Batherus Batherus, New York, U.S.A. (verified review through Etsy.com).
"The Koumartzis familia have been making replicas of ancient Greek instruments for many years, used by famous lyre players. They also contribute to their musical passions through research and collaborations." - Ancient History Encyclopedia. Read the extended tribute here.
"My ancient Kithara, handcrafted by Luthieros Music Instruments, is for me a very interesting challenge. As an instrument is both old and new. It carries a history of many centuries and at the same time_ it is a very modern challenge that requires a creative approach to musical archetypes. After many experiments […] I discover that this instrument has but many extensions and features that are not noticeable at first glance. The construction is both sturdy and thin, and made of quality woods, which are eclectic, stylish and durable." - Ross Daly, a professional world musician of Irish descent.
"Absolutely fantastic! A truly wonderfully crafted instrument. I can’t put it down. It feels wonderful to play and is transporting me back in time." - Sarah Tilsley, West Sussex, U.K. (verified review through Etsy.com).
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Lyre of Sappho (8 strings) – ancient Greek barbiton lyre