Ancient Strings from Smithsonian Folkways

The use of chordophones (commonly known as stringed instruments) can be traced back to at least 13000–11000 B.C., when cave drawings in Ariege, France depicted a hunter playing a musical bow to magically entrance the animals. The Ancient Greeks used the lyre, which spread across Europe as well. Other significant instruments in Europe, which would later spread to the Americas, include the violin, various zithers and lutes. Native Americans had traditional music that went along with their rituals but it usually did not include stringed instruments until after the Colonial Period African music focuses on both percussion as well as a wide variety of strings including harp lutes, fiddles and bowed lutes. Smithsonian Folkways Records features a large selection of these developments in the chordophone – here is a small sampling.