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The Zither (photo) (audio)
Zithers are the descendants of the cithra, a type of lyre. Strings on a zither are plucked with a plectrum. The instrument consists of five "main" metal strings and twenty-seven to forty other strings. The melody is usually played on the metal strings
with a plectrum while the accompaniment or the background music is usually plucked, with fingers, on the other numerous strings. Two subsets of zithers have come out of the main prototype: the concert zither and the elegy zither. The concert zither is long with thirty-two to forty-two strings while the elegy zither is still longer and is lower in pitch by a third or fourth.
Other variations are
directly from the traditional zither: the Schlagzither and the Streichzither. The Schlagzither is considered the traditional instrument and is plucked with a plectrum while the Streichzither produces sound by a bow. The zither is most widely used in Germany and Austria where it is used to play folk songs because it's sound is said to be most suited for such music.
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