Hungarian Citera

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Hungarian Citera

Postby DulcitTones » Mon Feb 05, 2018 2:03 pm

I was thinking of making a Hungarian Citera.
I can only find exterior photos, and was wondering about that soundbox. Does anyone know if that is a single soundbox, or if it is segmented (2 or 3 segments that look like one from the outside.)

There is a lot of string tension there.... I think it would benefit from some hefty interior bracing.

Would love to see one without the top on it!

Any ideas?
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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby KenH » Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:58 pm

Single soundbox, backless and footed. Use Bing or Google search on "Hungarian citera" and look at the images, you'll see all sort of inspirational pictures. Here's a picture I found that shows the diatonic tuning for the main fretboard and chromatic notes for the other boards

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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby Ken Bloom » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:55 am

Modern citeras are quite heavily built. The sides are at least 3/8" thick with heavy bracing under the fingerboard. The ones I have seen and played do not have feet but are meant to be played on a table. They come in several sizes and these days you can find videos of ensembles. In the old days the bodies were hollowed from one large piece of wood, much like the very early langeleiks.
They devised the clever fret arrangement to be able to play Hungarian folk music. Hungary suffered the influence of the Ottoman Empire for many years and this had a very dramitic effect on the music giving a European diatonic approach an Islamic overlay. Having the scale of hijab ( D, Eb, F#, G, A, Bb, C#, and D) being prominent as well as a few others gives Hungarian music a very different quality.
I have never seen a citera that had a back. These days they are usually tuned in C. Good luck with your project.

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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby DulcitTones » Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:35 am

Wow! Great information, thank you both!

Open back? Really? I wonder if that's because all those strings would sound muddy in that small soundbox?
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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby Ken Bloom » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:16 am

It would sound the same but it is always played on a wooden table and the table acts as an amplifier. The concert zither is very similar. These are relatively heavy instruments and the extra weight keeps them from moving around on the table they are played upon. Even though the citera is "dulcimer-like" it is a very different instrument with roots going back to Medieval times.

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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby KenH » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:26 am

Two other groups of "carved body" instruments I'm familiar with -- the Anglo-Germanic Lyres and Baltic Psalteries -- both turn the carved opening upwards (more or less) and add a soundboard with or without soundholes.

The Langeleik and Citera and others turn the open face down on a table and use it as an amplifier. Both systems work but they are not what most Europo-Americans are used to seeing.
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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby DulcitTones » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:32 am

I made a kantele once from a solid piece of 8/4 Cherry. Worked out nicely.

Not sure I'd want to do that here, so I will have to figure out how to frame it up so it doesn't twist itself into a knot when those heavy strings get tensioned up!

Thanks for taking part in the discussion all!
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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby Ken Bloom » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:01 pm

The modern citeras are glued up with a substantial frame and a top. I'll be building one of these along with a langeleik, sheitholt, humml and an eppintte for a presentation I'll be giving at the Crooked Road Dulcimer Festival in Ferrum, Virginia in May. I'll also be doing repertoire workshop presenting some of the music that is played on these. Good luck with your project.

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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby DulcitTones » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:22 pm

Ken:
If you want to share a quick sketch of what the frame looks like, I would be very grateful.
But I also know that you are a luthier by trade and that you might not want to share those secrets - so I would completely understand if you didn't!

Just finishing up a three string psalmodikon, and then the I hope to build the citera next.
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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby Ken Bloom » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:09 pm

Hi Dulcitones, I don't have a frame sketch available but you can make your own by using the outline of the instrument that is illustrated at the beginning of this thread. Make the straight sides about 1/2" thick. Make the block at the bottom around an inch thick and make the pin blocks substantial as well. Citeras vary a lot in depth but around 1 1/2"- 2" will work. Each maker is kind of a world unto himself. You can add a frame member to further strengthen the instrument in the fretted/ full-length drone section. That will help take the tension. Let me know if I can be of further help.

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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby DulcitTones » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:18 pm

Thanks Ken! If it all works out, I will see if I can't post some pictures when it's done!
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Re: Hungarian Citera

Postby Ken Bloom » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:27 pm

Sounds good!

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