The Violin (a chordophone) is a bowed string instrument. It has four strings of different thicknesses, tuned in fifths (Do, Sol, Re, La), and its musical range includes 44 chromatic tones. Early versions of the violin most probably appeared during the 16th century, and evolved from the medieval Fiddle, the Italian Lira Da Braccio, and the Rebec. The violin acquired most of its contemporary characteristics in Italy, where major families of Violin makers, such as the Amati, Guarneri and Stradivarius, created musical instruments with wonderful acoustics.

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Violoncello (Cello)
The Violoncello is a bowed string musical instrument. It has four strings, which are thicker than those on a Violin or Viola, and are tuned in fifths (Do, Sol, Re, La). It is commonly played with a bow, but fingers may also be used (a technique known as “pizzicato”). The Violoncello first appeared during the 16th century, and was equipped with an endpin in the early 19th century, which rests on the floor to support the violoncello in a playing position, between the musician’s legs. The size of the contemporary Violoncello, with a back length of 75-76 cm and overall height of 125 cm, was instituted by Stradivari. The Violoncello produces a full tone, which makes it a very popular solo instrument with many composers.

The Guitar is a string instrument. Guitars typically have six strings, but eight, ten, twelve and eighteen string guitars also exist. The Guitar has been the most popular and widely-known of musical instruments since the second half of the 20th century, as it is used in a plethora of popular musical styles, such as jazz, blues, rock and pop. Nevertheless, the guitar also has a long history within the context of classical, “academic” music, as the protagonist in many national musical idioms, and as a solo instrument. In Greece, the Guitar appears in many different music genres, contemporary as well as traditional, such as rebetika and folk music, often as accompaniment. The Guitar consists of two parts, the body and the neck.

The term Lyra refers to an ancient stringed musical instrument, which commonly accompanied the recitation of verse. According to Greek mythology, it was invented by the god Hermes and built by the god Apollo. It originally had seven or eight strings (and later up to nine), and each one had its own, unique name. It consisted of a sound box, two raised arms and a crossbar, and was played with the fingers, without the use of a bow. Its sound is thought to have resembled that of the guitar, except “drier”. Nowadays, the term refers to another musical instrument, which comprises a pear-shaped body (in most cases) and a short neck, which houses three or more strings. The Lyra is used in a number of areas across Greece.

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The Mandolin is a plucked string musical instrument in the Lute family. It originated in Italy, towards the end of the Renaissance. It descended from the Mandola, which is a part of the Mandolin family, just like the Mandocello and the Mandobass (Mandolone). The Mandolin is high pitched, while the Mandobass has lowest range in the Mandolin family. There are also three lesser-known types of Mandolin: the Mandolin-banjo, the A-style and the F-style. The Mandolin-banjo developed when the Mandolin became known in North America in the early 19th century, where it was adapted to the local musical needs and subsequently became flat (like the Banjo) and its sound begun to resemble that of the Banjo. The A-style, which is also flat, took its name from the shape of its sound box.

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The Baglamas is a small, long-necked plucked string instrument, similar to the Bouzouki. It typically has six strings (three double strings) and is made using same materials and techniques as the Bouzouki. It was created during the time when the rebetes were persecuted by the authorities and their music was illegal. The Baglamas is small, so that it would fit under the musician’s jacket, and could be taken anywhere, even to prison. Rumour has it that the rebetes actually built the first one while imprisoned, but there are no written records to confirm this. It’s sound is high and sharp, and it is tuned the same way as the three-stringed Bouzouki (Re-La-Re). These days, it is used to add colour, accuracy and subtlety to vibrant sound and musical compositions.

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The Tzouras is a plucked string musical instrument with a long neck, which originates from the Bouzouki. It has six or eight strings, and a neck and pegbox like the Bouzouki. It’s body, however, is smaller, about twice the size of the Baglamas. As its neck and soundboard are smaller than those of the Bouzouki, it produces a deeper sound. It is tuned in D-A-D, while the smaller version is tuned in G-D-G. It is made using the same materials and similar techniques to those of the Bouzouki. Chronologically, the Tzouras came after the Baglamas, and the eight-string version is newer still, and very rarely used. The sound of the Tzouras is reminiscent of the Bouzouki, but has its own, unique timbre, which has earned it a special place within Greek folk bands.

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To quote Kyriakos Kalaitzidis, the Oud is used “all over the Near and Middle East…by the Persians, the Armenians, the Greeks, the Jews, and across the Arab and Islamic world”. Its original form was different to the contemporary version. Historically, it played a leading role in shaping the musical culture of the Arab world. String instruments were introduced into the Arab world by the Persians and Byzantines, after the expansion of Islam. It is likely that the Oud, or one of its predecessors, was among them. The Arabs later named it Al Oud, which translates as “wood” or “flexible rod”. The Arabs, led by Ibrahim, Ziryah and Farabi, developed an entire system of musical theory for the Oud, based upon the texts of ancient Greek theorists.

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Contrabass (Double Bass)
The Contrabass is a bowed string (chordophone) musical instrument. Its average length is 1.8 metres and it has four strings that are tuned in fourths (E-A-D-G). Earlier versions of the contrabass were three-stringed, and five string models also exist. For the sake of playing technique, the Contrabass retains certain features of the Viola De Gamba, from which it evolved – via the Violoncello – during the 16th century. It is the largest and the lowest-pitched of the string instruments family. The bow is used across the lower part, and the instrument is supported by means of a metal endpin.

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Kanonaki (Dulcimer)
Early versions of the Kanonaki appear around Asia even before the Greek Classical period. During the Middle Ages it was known by the name of Psaltirio, and it is often referenced in manuscripts and church frescoes during the Byzantine and post-Byzantine era. The Kanonaki or Psaltirio consists of trapezoid-shaped box, over which the strings (which are made of animal intestines or – nowadays – synthetic material) are stretched lengthways. One or more holes are cut into the soundboard (the wooden surface below the strings), and often decorated. The bridges (mandalakia or mandalia) are on the left hand side; moving them up or down raises or lowers the pitch by a quarter of a tone. Each note may have from one to five or six bridges.

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The lute is a string musical instrument, which, in Greek musical tradition, is often used to accompany the Violin, the Lyra, or other instruments. It is similar to the Oud but has a longer neck*, and frets. It is typically tuned in E-A-D-G, from bottom to top, whereas the mainland version is generally tuned in A-D-G-C (4,3,2,1). The Lute is quite popular on the islands and especially Crete, where it accompanies the Cretan Lyra. A close relative is the Lavta, also known as Politiko (Constantinople) Lute.

Historically, the Saz (Sazi, in Greek) most probably originated from the ancient Pandourida (Pandura). In fact, reference to a similar instrument is made in the school of Pythagoras, and its presence in Greece goes back to at least the 4th century B.C., according to a relief found in Mantineia. The name “Saz” is probably of Turkish origin. Instruments of the saz type all share certain characteristic features: a long neck, three steel strings, movable frets (which divide the neck into segments that determine semitones or quarter tones), which were made of intestines in the past, and of plastic in contemporary instruments, and an almond-shaped body. These features define a large family of instruments, which includes all types of long-necked Lutes.

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The Santouri has metal strings stretched lengthways across its trapezoid-shaped body. Three to five strings, tuned to the same tone, correspond to each note. It is played using thin sticks whose ends are wrapped in cotton wool or leather. The sticks are held between the index and middle fingers, with the help of the thumbs, and titled upwards slightly, and the movement comes mainly from the musician’s wrists rather than their fingers. Playing the Santouri generally involves placing it on a base that rests on the seated musician’s lap, although, on certain occasions that require the musicians to be moving around a lot, such as festivals or weddings, it is hung from their shoulders. Each of the Santouri’s strings corresponds to two notes (usually in fifths, e.g.