Mid-east Mfg. Cittren 9 String Walnut (also cithren), is a plucked string instrument from the family of box necked lutes. It exists in a variety of designs, which is why the cistern is not regarded as a particular instrument, but rather an instrument family.
The typical cittern still found in many museums is a form in which the neck becomes thicker toward the body, giving the body a slight incline shape when viewed from the side.
Originally, the cittern belonged mainly to the medieval drone-style instruments, with the so-called Italian tuning (gg hh d’d’ e’e’) or the French tuning (aa ggg d’d’ e’e’) and in the 16th century was played using four courses: the melody would be played on the 4th or 3rd course, while the next lowest strings were open strummed drones.
Polyphonic music evolved during the Renaissance period. The cistern can be used as a pure melody instrument, an accompanying instrument, or as a polyphonic solo instrument.
The cittern we manufacture is in the French tuning. The scale length of the instrument is 45.5 cm. The full length is 70 cm. The body is made of walnut. It has a depth of 5 cm at the base of the neck and tapers down to 3.2 cm. The instrument has a solid spruce top.