From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A psaltery is a stringed musical instrument of the harp or the zither family. The psaltery of Ancient Greece dates from at least 300 BC, it was a harp-like instrument.
In the King James Version of the Bible, "psaltery", and its plural, "psalteries", is used to translate the Hebrew keliy (כלי) in Psalm 71:22 and I Chronicles 16:5; nevel (נבל) in I Samuel 10:5; 2 Samuel 6:5; I Kings 10:12; I Chronicles 13:8; 15:16, 20, 28; 25:1, 6; II Chronicles 5:12; 9:11; 20:28; 29:25; Nehemiah 12:27; Psalms 33:2; 57:6; 81:2; 92:3; 108:2; 144:9; and 150:3; and pesanterin (פסנתרין) in Daniel 3:5, 7, 10, and 15.
In the Christian era a psaltery consisting of a soundboard with several pre-tuned strings that are usually plucked, came into use. It was also known by the name canon from the Greek word "kanon" which means rule, principle and also "mode". The instrument is usually small enough to be portable; its shape and range vary. It is depicted in a number of artworks from the Medieval Period.
In the 19th Century several forms came into use, notably the guitar zither and the Autoharp.
In the 20th Century, the bowed psaltery has come into wide use. It is set up in a triangular format so that the end portion of each string can be bowed.
- Discussion of psalteries, with image from the exhibition Making Musical Instruments: The making of musical instruments in Canada by the Canadian Museum of Civilisation