Category: cittern


Stary Olsa – Medieval Classic Rock! – Metallica, Beatles…

Stary Olsa is a medieval band from Minsk, Belarus that has played throughout Europe. As an experiment they have played classic rock songs by Metallica, Deep Purple or The Beatles using their medieval instruments – and they had a big success with their performances and their youtube videos.

Instruments played by Stary Olsa
Instruments played by Stary Olsa

Now thay have just started a kickstarter campaign to produce their album “Medieval Classic Rock” – maybe you like to support this project?

Listen to my Stary Olsa playlist:

Additional information


The English Guittar or Cittern – A popular Plucked…

I am currently reading about the history of the English Guitar or Guittar, a kind of Cittern. Some time ago I have written a post about this instrument in my German blog

The guittar was developed after 1753 in Great Britain. According to the very detailed paper by Jürgen Kloss it has first been used by the actress Maria Macklin in a play that has become very popular. After this the guittar has become very popular for the next 50 years.

The guittar has 6 courses and ist typically tuned in C-major. The guittar can be used to accompany the singing, but it can also be used to play instrumental music like that for the guitar. It can be played with the fingers, but also with a pick or quill. Early instruments had tuning pegs, later a system using watch keys has been developed similar to the system used for the Portuguese guitar.

Rob MacKillop has compiled interesting information and pictures on his website (choose “guitar” first, then ). His videos can be found at the beginning of my playlist.

Pictures of historical citterns can be foudn on the museum websites listed below.

The first video shows an instrument from the workshop of John Preston from the 18th century:

Robert Mouland on The English Guitar

An example in which a cittern is used to accompany the singing with Dante Ferrara:

The Wager – Dante Ferrara ; cittern

The Wager
(William Ellis, 1652)
from the CD Bazimakoo by Dante Ferrara

My lady and her maid, upon a merry pin,
They made a match at farting, who should the wager win.
Joan lights three candles then, and sets them bolt upright.
With the first fart she blew them out, with the next she gave them light.
In comes my lady then, with all her might and mane,
And blew them out and in and out and in and out again.

Music Copyright Dante Ferrara 2007
Video Copyright Adam Verity

Doc Rossi plays his arrangement of a Sonata by J. C. Bach on a cittern from the workshop of John Preston (ca. 1770).

Doc Rossi: J C Bach Sonata for cittern (English guitar) and violin

Solo arrangement of JC Bach’s Sonata for 18th-century cittern (a.k.a; English guitar) and violin played by Doc Rossi on a Preston cittern from around 1770.

Read more “The English Guittar or Cittern – A popular Plucked String Instrument of the 18th Century”


The Waldzither – A cittern

The Waldzither is an instrument that is mainly known in the north of Germany. The Waldzither belogs to the family of citterns, which includes the Swiss Halszither, as well as the Portuguese guitar used in the Fado music of Portugal. Citterns are also used in the folk music of England and Ireland.

The Waldzither has 9 strings, the lowest string is a single string, the other strings are double like the strings of a mandolin.

The Waldzither is very good for accompanying songs. The Waldzither uses open tunings, and who knows to play the guitar can quickly learn to play the Waldzither as well.

Most famous are the Waldzithers by the Böhm factory from Hamburg. Those can be recognized by the special tuning machines which are tuned with a special tuning key. Such tuning machines are also used for the Portuguese guitar until today.

A lot of information with chord charts and some sheet music can be found on the German site There you can find informations about the different tunings that are used for the Waldzither and also some pieces for the different tunings.

The following video shows a typical Böhmzither.

Waldzither, Achterum (norddeutscher Dorftanz), vorweg etwas “präludiert” (Impr.)

The German company Folkfriends now offers a Hamburg Waldzither similar to the Böhmzither produced almost 100 years ago. This instrument is demonstrated in the following video.

Finally my own video using a Waldzither from Thüringen (Thüringer Waldzither). This instrument has a slotted head like a guitar. I have stringed and tuned this instrument like a mandola with four double strings tuned in fifths. This instrument has the typical glass bridge that is often used for Waldzither instruments. I like the open and very bright sound with a lot of sustain of the Waldzither.

Playlist Waldzither

A list of important links about the Waldzither: Linkliste Waldzither

The Waldzither Chord Bible: CGCEG Standard C Tuning (Fretted Friends) (Amazon partnerlink)