Future Projects

Current/future project - more citoles

When Alice has time between other projects, she is working on plans and prototypes for the instruments mentioned below.

Current/future project - cetra? cetera? early cetula?

Another of Alice’s on-going projects is an instrument based on wall paintings in the lower Basilica of the church of Saint Francis in Assisi, Italy, dating from 1300-1320. Eighteen similar instruments are shown from various angles. Alice is working on a prototype that borrows details from several of these images. 

‘But isn’t that a citole?‘ I hear you ask. Alice would argue that it probably isn’t. The distinct-necked, non-oval-bodied, plucked instruments that appear in Italian art c.1180-1400 are so different from the citoles depicted in other parts of Europe that I argue that this instrument type is, at least, a distinct regional variant of citoles (or possibly a separate instrument type entirely). During this period, citole-related instrument names are also virtually unknown in Italian texts. The terms that appears in Italy are ‘cetra’ or ‘cetera’. A few Occitan and Spanish texts include both citole-related terms and cetra-related terms in such a way that they seem to indicate that these were identifiably different instruments. I consider it probable that when Dante mentions the ‘cetra’, in De vulgari eloquentia and later, he is referring to this typically shallow bodied, usually spatulate, Italian instrument. (And that it is this type of instrument that is the precursor to the ‘cetula’, which Tinctoris describes as having been invented by the Italians).

If you are interested in this subject, you may wish to have a look at Crawford Young’s 1984 article that highlights some of the morphological and terminological differences related to plucked instruments of the Middle Ages by region and century,* or have a look at Chapter 10 of Alice’s PhD thesis.

*Crawford Young, ' Zur Klassifikation und Ikonographischen Interpretation Mittelalterlicher Zupfinstrumente', Basler Jahrbuch Für Historische Musikpraxis, 8 (1984), pp. 67- 104.

Above is the citole that Alice made as part of the work for her Master’s degree (2004). The project was to reconstruct a typical early 14th-century English citole using historically-appropriate woodworking techniques. Aside from the felling of the tree and the cleaving of the trunk, all of the work to hollow and shape the body of this instrument was done by Alice with axes, adzes, and gouges.

You might recognize that the outline of the instrument above is based on the surviving much-altered citole in the British Museum. (Again, Alice would like to thank the British Museum for allowing her to take measurements and photographs of the original instrument.) Other details were derived from English images from the first quarter of the fourteenth century.

The fretting pattern shown above offers an extended Pythagorean scale, other fretting patterns are available. 

And, of course, it has a thumb-hole type neck.  

Current/future project - other lyres

Lyre project 1, Oberflacht 84 - In 1846, a virtually complete oak lyre from the 5-7th century was found during an archeological excavation in Oberflacht Germany. Some parts of the instrument, like the pegs, became damaged almost as soon as the instrument was uncovered. The main body of the lyre, the yoke and soundboard, however, were preserved until the end of World War II. Fortunately, several copies of the instrument were made for other museums during the late nineteen and early twentieth centuries. Alice is working on a reproduction based on historical descriptions and photographs of the original lyre as well as measurements and photographs of some of the copies made while that original lyre still existed.

Lyre project 2, Trossingen Lyre - Since Barbara Theune-Großkopf’s published the report on the superb and structurally complete decorated maple lyre found in Trossingen Germany in 2002, Alice has been wanting to work on a reproduction but she hasn’t been able to find the time to do so yet.