‘A very mistaken identification’: The ‘Sultana’ or ‘Cither viol’ and its links to the Bowed Psaltery, Viola d’Amore and Guittar.

Panagiotis Poulopoulos, Rachael Durkin

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The origins and development of the ‘sultana’ or ‘cither viol’ constitute an organological enigma. So far the research concerning this instrument has been rather limited, and apart from a few dictionary entries and minor references in books, journal articles and museum catalogues, the instrument currently occupies only an obscure position in the literature of the viol family. Usually considered as the bowed equivalent of the wire-strung guittar, the ‘sultana’ or ‘cither viol’ has been described by several authors as a wire-strung type of viola d’amore with no sympathetic strings that was introduced in the 1760s by Thomas Perry, the well-known violin and guittar maker of Dublin (Figure 1). This article will examine new evidence that has come to light, aiming to reveal the true identity of this forgotten instrument and also to discuss its connection to the viola d’amore and guittar. Furthermore, it will provide new details on the manufacture and trade of the instrument and analyse its promotion, reception and musical role in the British Isles during the late eighteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-331
JournalEarly Music
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016

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