Alamanic Lyre

Alamanic Lyre - Photo: André Wagenzik
Description: 
Alamanic Lyre
Model: 
8th century archeological finds from a site in Oberflacht, Svebia, Germany

Looking at illustrations in psalters of the period, we see these instruments in a great number, and archeologists, especially in Scandinavia, found hunderts of little bone or ivory bridges of these instruments, but just 7 originals came onto us.

Two of these were found in 1846 in Oberflacht. One instrument came to Berlin, was documented and replicas were built, but the original was lost in WW2. The other instrument came to Stuttgart and is now on display in the Württembergisches Landesmuseum Altes Schloss.

Most fascination is the craftsmanship of the Alamanic people. The instrument is made from a plank, from which they removed an extremely thin slice, hollowed it out and glued the top back on. They must have used very sharp tools for this and created a very resonant instrument to give power to the poets words.

An instrument with 6 gut strings of equal length and our knowledge on music theory of the Middle Ages gives us some clues on how to tune it. This instrument gives the modal frame for recitations of early poetry.

Rainer Thurau made reconstructions of both Oberflacht instruments for me. They are quite different. The one from bog oak after the Berlin model gives a more interesting clear pitched sound, which I use in small rooms and for recordings. The Stuttgart model I got in maple. This is a very powerful instrument to fill large spaces.

Alamanic Lyre - Photo: André Wagenzik
Alamanic Lyre - Photo: André Wagenzik