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Lira da gamba stamp.jpg
Other namesLira da gamba; lyrone; lyra da gamba
Related instruments

The lirone (or lira da gamba) is the bass member of the lira family of instruments that was popular in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It is a bowed string instrument with between 9 and 16 gut strings and a fretted neck. When played, it is held between the legs in the manner of a cello or viol (viola da gamba).

It was used in italian operas and oratoriums to accompany the human voice, especially the gods. Because the lira da gambe can not play the bass, there must be a bass instrument, theorbo, harpsichord or viola da gamba.

The sources describe, that the instrument was used for the special sound, although it is an imperfect instrument.


The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians describes the lirone as essentially a larger version of the lira da braccio, which has a similar wide fingerboard, flat bridge, and leaf-shaped pegbox with frontal pegs.[1] Its flat bridge allows for the playing of chords of between three and five notes.


The lirone was primarily used in Italy[2] during the late 16th and early 17th centuries (and particularly in the time of Claudio Monteverdi) to provide continuo, or harmony for the accompaniment of vocal music. It was frequently used in Catholic churches, particularly by Jesuits.[3]


Despite the resurgence in Baroque instrument performance during the 20th century, only a handful of musicians play the lirone. Notable performers on the instrument include Erin Headley of England, Imke David (Weimar), Claas Harders and Hille Perl of Germany, Annalisa Pappano of the United States, Laura Vaughan of Australia, and Paulina van Laarhoven of the Netherlands.[4][5][6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. L. Macy (accessed 11 November 2006)
  2. ^ Pio Stefano (2012). Viol and Lute Makers of Venice. Venezia, Italy: Venice research. p. 441. ISBN 9788890725203. Archived from the original on 2018-03-13. Retrieved 2020-02-28.
  3. ^ "Baroque Musical Instruments". Catacoustic Consort. Archived from the original on 19 December 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  4. ^ Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. L. Macy - Erin Headley, "Lirone"
  5. ^ "claas harders - viola da gamba - lirone". Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Laura Vaughan | Viols and Lirone". Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  7. ^ "Log into Facebook". Retrieved 19 April 2021. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)


  • Erin Headley. "Lirone", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed November 11, 2006), (subscription access).
  • John Weretka. "Homer the lironist: P.F. Mola, Art and Music in the Baroque" [1]
  • Imke David "Die sechzehn Saiten der italienischen Lira da gamba", orfeo Verlag, 1999, ISBN 3-9806730-0-6

External links[edit]


  • Lirone audio (track 3 features the instrument accompanied by a plucked string instrument; tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 10 feature the lirone in an accompanying role)
  • Lirone audio