‘A very mistaken identification’: the ‘sultana’ or ‘cither viol’ and its links to the bowed psaltery, viola d’amore and guittar

Poulopoulos, Panagiotis and Durkin, Rachael (2016) ‘A very mistaken identification’: the ‘sultana’ or ‘cither viol’ and its links to the bowed psaltery, viola d’amore and guittar. Early Music, 44 (2). pp. 307-331. ISSN 0306-1078

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/em/caw047


The origins and development of the ‘sultana’ or ‘cither viol’ constitute an organological enigma. 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 guitar-maker of Dublin. This article will present new evidence that has come to light from the examination of written sources, iconography and surviving specimens, aiming to reveal the true identity of this forgotten instrument while underlining its close connections to the viola d’amore and guittar. Furthermore, it will provide new details on the manufacture and trade of the instrument by referring to the influential work of Frederick Hintz and Reinerus Liessem, two important instrument-makers and dealers of German origin working in Georgian London. Finally, the article will provide an overview of the instrument’s promotion and reception in the British Isles during the late 18th century, with particular reference to Scotland and Ireland where the instrument seems to have enjoyed a considerable popularity, and will additionally investigate its musical role by analysing the only known example of music composed for it in an extant manuscript.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: W300 Music
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2019 14:32
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 07:32
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/37889

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