Reconstructing the Kithara of Ancient Greece


Mark Cartwright
by Michael Levy
published on 04 March 2016

A 'live' performance of my composition, "The Golden Age of Pericles" on the wonderfully recreated Kithara of the Golden Age of Classical Greece - hand-made in modern Greece by Lutherios:

This piece is actually on track 1 of my album, "The Ancient Greek Tortoise Shell Lyre" - given a whole new timbre on the evocative tone of the replica ancient Greek kithara.

Since late 2014, I have been collaborating with Lutherios in their inspirational "Lyre 2.0 Project" - dedicated to reintroducing the wonderful lyres of antiquity back into the modern world, to make these beautiful instruments accessible to each and every modern musician:

This video hopefully demonstrate why the kithara was so venerated in antiquity, as the instrument of the professional musician.

In particular, I attempt to demonstrate the wonderfully reconstructed 2500 year old vibrato mechanism, for which there is an almost overwhelming body of visual evidence to support this theory. All original illustrations of the ancient Greek kithara clearly show what appear to be curved springs beneath the yoke to which the strings are attached, with the top of the arms carved almost wafer thin, which almost certainly was to allow for lateral movement of the yoke and the attached strings, creating an eerie vocal vibrato effect - some 2500 years before the invention of the 'whammy bar' of the Fender electric guitar!

The vibrato mechanism can be operated either by light lateral movement of either of the vertical wooden levers at each end of the yoke, or a more subtle vibrato can be achieved by pushing the discs either side of the yoke.

For full details on all my research into the kithara of ancient Greece and Rome, please also see my blog:

Many thanks for watching!

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Cite This Work

APA Style

Levy, M. (2016, March 04). Reconstructing the Kithara of Ancient Greece. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Levy, Michael. "Reconstructing the Kithara of Ancient Greece." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified March 04, 2016.

MLA Style

Levy, Michael. "Reconstructing the Kithara of Ancient Greece." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 04 Mar 2016. Web. 19 Apr 2024.