The Cretan Laouto – A Big and Great Sounding Instrument from Greece

I have discovered the Cretan Laouto some time ago and have written the following post in my German blog. I thought that I should also make a version in English about this interesting instrument from Greece.

The Cretan Laouto has 4 double strings, the three lower strings are tuned in octaves, the highest strings are tuned in unison. The tuning is similar to an octave mandolin in G – D – A – E, but the G string is tuned one octave higher than expected. So the tuning goes down from G to D, than up to A (on whole tone above the G), and up again to the E.

The form of the Cretan Laouto is similar to a mandocello with a rather big body. The scale is rather long, up to 75 cm, the strings are quite light an thin. The sound of the Cretan Laouto resemles a little bit the bouzouki, a twelve string guitar or a cittern.

The Cretan Laouto is played with a feather, this can be seen in some of the videos.

Das Instrument wird als Soloinstrument oder zur Begleitung der kretischen Lyra oder zum Gesang verwendet.

The instrument is used as a solo instrument, but also to accompany the Cretan Lyra or songs.

This is a short solo piece played with Cretan Laouto and guitar. This piece can also be played on a mandolin:

The next video shows a quartet with Cretan Laouto and also with a mandolin:

Ta Agria Poulia (The Wild Birds) – ΤΑ ΑΓΡΙΑ ΠΟΥΛΙΑ-ΒΑΣΙΛΗΣ ΣΚΟΥΛΑΣ

by Vasilis Skoulas.

A famous player of the Cretan Lauto is Mihalis Tsouganakis. He was born in Belgium, but moved back to Creta with his family when he was achild. There are many videos with Mihalis Tsouganakis.

Tsouganakis plays a kind of world music based on the Greek tradition. He uses this instrument in a very modern and unusual way as can be seen in the following video:

Michalis Tzouganakis Solo (Pali-Pali)

Michalis Tzouganakis performing “Pali-pali” at a concert organised for the celebration of the 80th birthday of Mikis Theodorakis.

Additional information

Discussion in the Mandolin Cafe about the Cretan Laouto: MandolinCafe

There I have found the following link to a Description of the Lauto in English

Playlist Cretan Lauto

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