minstrel: lyres

Greg Lindahl lindahl at pbm.com
Wed Apr 16 13:40:36 PDT 2008

On Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 09:21:38PM -0700, crystal verdon wrote:

> Does anyone know where one can find a simple and inexpensive
> lyre on which to learn?

That's a good question. It's actually a reasonable woodworking exercise:


but I don't know anyone who makes them commercially. Cariadoc did give
away a few a while back 'to a good home' (he likes making them, but
doesn't play any instrument). I don't know if he has any extras at the

> Also, sources for music?

About the only thing we have on lyres themselves is one page of a
manuscript saying one way to tune it (Hucbald). I have a photocopy of
it somewhere.


Bagby made up both the playing technique and the tunes for his Beowulf
performance. I really like the result. (He never does the
'block-and-strum' technique recommended by the above article.)

There's only a short period of overlap between written music and the
end of the popularity of the lyre in the 11th century. Two sources
would be troubadour songs, and sacred chant. You can read a little intro
about this music at the top of:


I don't currently have a webpage which gives pointers to online and
offline transcriptions of music from various eras, I suppose I should
make one someday...

-- Gregory

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