Friday, 7 September 2012

The String Musical Instruments – Espana 2012

On April 02, 2012, Espana Post  has issued the stamp set consist of five postage stamps which features the five string musical instruments originating from different parts of the world , like : the Harp, the  Balalaika, the Banjo, the Sitar and the Rebec.

The harp has been played since ancient times by the people of Mesopotamia and Egypt from where it was introduced into Greece and Asia.

The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the sound-board. Various types of harps are found in Africa, Europe, North and South America and in Asia.

The harp also was predominant with medieval bards, troubadors and minnesingers throughout the Spanish Empire. Harps continued to grow in popularity through improvements in their design and construction through the beginning of the 20th century.

Harps are essentially triangular and are made primarily of wood. They are composed of the soundboard, a neck, resonator and strings. Harp strings may be made of nylon, gut, wire or silk.

The Balalaika is of Russian origin and it is used to play popular music.

The balalaika family of instruments includes instruments of various sizes, from the highest-pitched to the lowest, the prima balalaika, secunda balalaika, alto balalaika, bass balalaika, and contrabass balalaika.

It has a characteristic, almost flat, triangular body topped with a long narrow neck with three strings which are played with the fingers or a plectrum.
Although the earliest mention of the Balalaika is in the late 17th century, it was fully developed in the following century.

The Banjo, widely used by black Americans in the 19th century, is the most popular American folk music instrument.

The five-string banjo has been used in classical music since before the turn of the 20th century.

The banjo is a four, five or six stringed instrument with a piece of animal skin or plastic stretched over a circular frame. Simpler forms of the instrument were fashioned by Africans in Colonial America, adapted from several African instruments of similar design.

The circular soundboard is covered with skin and is attached to a long neck with either four, five or six strings. It is a basic instrument in country music and jazz. The banjo is usually associated with country, folk, Irish traditional music and bluegrass music.

The Sitar, of Indian origin, produces a delicate metallic sound perfect for expressing poetic themes.

Used widely throughout the Indian subcontinent, the sitar became known in the western world through the work of Ravi Shankar beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s

It consists of a soundboard made of pumpkin and a fretted neck in which the silver or brass frets are movable, allowing fine tuning.
Some incorporate a smaller sound box at the top of the mast. The number of strings varies from 18 to 26, and they are struck with a pick.

The Rebec was introduced into medieval Europe by the Arabs. In the Iberian Peninsula it is popular in Cantabria, Castile and Leon. It was derived from the Arabic bowed instrument rebab and the Byzantine lyra .

The Rebec was particularly popular in the 15th and 16th centuries and played on the arm or under the chin, like a violin.

The Rebec is a bowed string musical instrument. It is flat above and convex below and the body tapers towards the part of the pegs. It usually has three strings which are rubbed with a very short curved bow. It was commonly used by minstrels to accompany popular dances.

The instruments featuring in these stamps belong to the Interactive Music Museum of Malaga (MIMMA). (Sources: Espana Post Bulletin and Wikipedia)

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