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Thread: a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

  1. #1

    Default a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

    Hello

    Im owner of a 1922 Special order ( possibly One of a Kind) The House of Stathopoulo ( by Anastasios Stathopoulo's pre-Epiphone) 4 String Greek Cretan Lyra / Lyraki .

    Do you know this specific instrument ?
    Do you have any information about the player that was made for?
    or any other information?

    The Lyra is in excellent condition .

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    do you have any helpful information ?
    thank you

    sincerely

    Thanos Kourmousis

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  3. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

    Thanos, do you have more and larger photos you could post? This looks like an unusual design with f-holes. Normally, the bridge has a soundpost attached that goes to the back through the treble sound hole. There would be two D-shaped soundholes on either side of the bridge. Also, I cannot tell from the photo whether there is a fingerboard.

    What is interesting to me is that on the label of a 1912 bowlback mandolin made by Stathopoulo is a mention, "Patentee of Orpheum Lyra (liouto)." However, I cannot find any patent for a lyra under his name, at least in the US. The only patent I find it for a mandolin but the drawing look like a lute or oud.
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    Last edited by Jim Garber; Jun-25-2018 at 10:33am.
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    Default Re: a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

    Hi Thanos
    First of all,Anastasios died in 1915 so this would have been made while the company was ran by Epi, his son. By that time, the once small studio of Anastasios was transformed into a big workshop with several makers working there.
    We know that Anastasios trained in Istanbul and that he also made violins at some point, although I have never seen one. It is possible that he produced bowed instruments and that few similar orders were carried out by the workshop after his death.
    Regarding this particular instrument: Although it was sold to you as a "cretan" lyra,its construction does not follow the style of any of the 2 main types of the cretan instrument.
    There are a few possibilities that come to my mind.
    1. This is a special order made by someone who did not specialize on lyra type instruments but tried to improvise possibly by looking at photos and other instruments.

    2. this is an experimental attempt to create a new type of instrument.Obviously not a successful one if the project didnt go any further.

    3. This has nothing to do with the Cretan lyra. This might be an attempt to make a 4string type Klasik Kemenše of Istanbul (Πολίτικη λύρα). A couple of decades later,a similar, pear shaped instrument with violin tuning was standarized in Istanbul, used by Cuneyd Orhon and later by others.

    As the construction of the lyra family is not standarized in the way the violin family is,it is difficult to say what instruments he had in mind. There are some 4string lyras that survive from the Aegean ( Kos particularly) but again, they all vary so much that we cant easily categorize them

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    Default Re: a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Thanos, do you have more and larger photos you could post? This looks like an unusual design with f-holes. Normally, the bridge has a soundpost attached that goes to the back through the treble sound hole. There would be two D-shaped soundholes on either side of the bridge. Also, I cannot tell from the photo whether there is a fingerboard.

    What is interesting to me is that on the label of a 1912 bowlback mandolin made by Stathopoulo is a mention, "Patentee of Orpheum Lyra (liouto)." However, I cannot find any patent for a lyra under his name, at least in the US. The only patent I find it for a mandolin but the drawing look like a lute or oud.
    the drawing is a greek laouto. i had one by anastasios stathoupoulo, which i had restored but sold a year or two ago.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

    Quote Originally Posted by alk View Post
    Although it was sold to you as a "cretan" lyra,its construction does not follow the style of any of the 2 main types of the cretan instrument.
    There are a few possibilities that come to my mind.
    1. This is a special order made by someone who did not specialize on lyra type instruments but tried to improvise possibly by looking at photos and other instruments.

    2. this is an experimental attempt to create a new type of instrument.Obviously not a successful one if the project didnt go any further.
    ......

    As the construction of the lyra family is not standarized in the way the violin family is,it is difficult to say what instruments he had in mind. There are some 4string lyras that survive from the Aegean ( Kos particularly) but again, they all vary so much that we cant easily categorize them
    A you say, this may have been a "new type of instrument" - but it may have been one of those odd attempts at improving the lyra as it evolved from the version now known as a lyraki, and to become the modern lyra.

    Check this picture from the Museum of Greek Traditional Instruments, Athens:



    Note the varied body shapes and the 2 instruments with F holes .

    It sure is a mystery.

    I do not think it is related to the 3 string klasik (fas,il) kemenc,e, which has 3 gut strings, the middle string is longer, and has wooden tuning pegs.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    A you say, this may have been a "new type of instrument" - but it may have been one of those odd attempts at improving the lyra as it evolved from the version now known as a lyraki, and to become the modern lyra.

    Check this picture from the Museum of Greek Traditional Instruments, Athens:

    Note the varied body shapes and the 2 instruments with F holes .

    It sure is a mystery.

    I do not think it is related to the 3 string klasik (fas,il) kemenc,e, which has 3 gut strings, the middle string is longer, and has wooden tuning pegs.
    David: Are any of those instruments you mentioned above played with strings stopped by the sides of the fingernails as opposed to the tips of the fingers? I know that the Nepali sarangi is played that way.

    I have a hand-made, folky cretan lyra and modern makers do make them with geared tuners. What is especially fun is that these often had handmade bows with small bells attached. Mine is not playable but I connected with a guy in IIRC Montreal who made me some proper bridges. I also have to see if I can straighten the mother-of-toilet-seat fingerboard.

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    Default Re: a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    David: Are any of those instruments you mentioned above played with strings stopped by the sides of the fingernails as opposed to the tips of the fingers?
    The bells are an important part of some playing styles.

    As far as I know all those instruments were made to be played with the sides of the fingernail, like the sarangi and gadulka.

    https://www.greeka.com/crete/rethymn...retan-lyra.htm

    the Museum of Cretan Lyra



    A modern viol-lyra

    http://www.gtc-music1.com/pro_upload...LyraMethod.pdf

    lyra method book

    https://www.umbc.edu/eol/3/magrini/lyra.htm

    another interesting article: "The Cretan lyra and the influence of violin"

    "The Cretan lyra is a small, pear-shaped, three-string fiddle, (7) held upright and played by stopping the strings from the side with fingernails"

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

    Here's another mid to late 20th century lyra from the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.

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    Default Re: a 1922 A.stathopoulo Cretan 4 string Lyra

    The family of pear shaped (and some# bottle shaped) bowed instruments known as Lyra in Greece (and Kemenše in Turkey) has endless variations as many instruments were made by the players themselves. Some are very crudely made, some more elaborate.

    As a general rule, the construction of each type varies according to specific needs and requirements of each local tradition and style. To give you some examples:


    indoor/outdoor use

    The Karadeniz kemenše (Ποντιακή λύρα) can be used outdoors. Its construction therefore allows the played to play standing by attaching it to their belt. Some other instruments can probably played like that but it is much less common.


    The klasik kemenše of istanbul on the other hand has evolved around the needs of indoor use and silent audiences. the seating technique has evolved too,and allows players to shift and use the full range of the instrument,which does not happen to the same extend in the Aegean Lyras, normally rested on the left knee.


    Ensemble

    The presence of bells on the bow might suggest unaccompanied playing or lute accompaniment. The lyra of Rodos is a good example of that. No bells would probably suggest that there is percussion instrument accompanying. Again, there are exceptions to that.


    Dance forms/style

    Instruments have different sound characteristics according to the styles they serve.For example, a lot of the cretan tradition requires punchy rhythms and short strokes.in contrast, the klasik kemenše still uses the "slower" thick gut which gives a much more mellow and blending sound.


    Another elemement is the tuning: The lyra of Drama and nearby regions and the kastamonu kemenše still have the bass in the middle string and are played with drones while others don't.


    From all the above, I am not able to identify a specific tradition in the making of the Stathopoulo instrument. I do not believe that its characteristics are defined enough to help us identify a specific school.


    The number of strings narrows it down a bit as we know there was a small number of 4 string instruments in the island of Kos.Perhaps the order was made by someone familiar to that style? I do not think so but it is possible.


    We also know of the 4 string klasik kemenše of istanbul, as it was used by Cuneyd Orhon but that was a few decades later than this instrument was made. you can some of those attempts here


    The last characteristic of this instrument that might help us draw a conclusion is its remarkably good condition:The most common reason for a folk instrument (typically not kept in a hard case) to survive intact for a centrury is that it was not played. I do not think anyone ever found a good way of using this instrument and,to me, that suggests that it was an experiment or an attempt to please an eccentric customer.



    Also: a final thought.The most famous lyra player in the USA of that time was Piperakis, who recorded extensively. As far as I know,he used a normal 3 string instrument so there is nothing to connect him to this particular type of instrument.
    Last edited by alk; Jul-27-2018 at 5:31am.

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