Category: stringed instruments

stringed instruments

Music from Venezuela for Mandolin and other Plucked Instruments…

In this post I have compiled several playlists with music for mandolin and other stringed instruments from Venezuela.

I have a page on my website mandoisland about the mandolin and other interesting information about the music in Venzuela.

MandoIsland Website:

Page about music in Venezuela:

Music from Venezuela

Venezuela – Percujazz (Cuatro/Bandola)

Bandola Llanera (Venezuela)

Venezuela – Cuatro Venezolano – Pajarillo

Sonidos de Venezuela

Venezuela – Merengue Venezolano

Iván Adler – Venezuela

Read more “Music from Venezuela for Mandolin and other Plucked Instruments – My Playlists”

stringed instruments

The Cretan Laouto – A Big and Great Sounding…

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


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”


Chica Torpedo – Du bisch i mim Haerz –…

Some days ago I have watched Swiss movie – Frühling im Herbst – Spring in Autumn. In this movie a dance instructor from Argentina comes for a visit to Switzerland. During the movie a song played by a band has an important role.

The song – Du bisch i mim Haerz (you are in my heart) is played by the Swiss band Chica Torpedo, the singer is Schmidi Schmidhauser who sings this typical Cuban song in his native language, the Swiss dialect from Berne.

Schmidi Schmidhauser plays a Tres Cubano, a small guitar shaped instrument with 3 double strings. This instrument is typical for the Cuban dance music. In some of the videos with Chica Torpedo you can see and hear the tres. Other instruments played in this group are guitar, bass, several percussion instruments and a brass section.

I liked the song with this very special mix of Cuban sound and Swiss dialect very much.

Chica Torpedo – Du bisch i mim Haerz

Chica Torpedo – Margareta

CHICA TORPEDO Live am Afro-Pfingsten Festival 2010

Additional Information

Homepage Chica Torpedo:

youtube channel Chica Torpedo with more videos:

Wikipedia about the  Tres Cubano:

Atlas of Plucked Instruments with the  Tres Cubano: