|Other names||Lira da gamba; lyrone; lyra da gamba|
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).
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. Its flat bridge allows for the playing of chords of between three and five notes.
The lirone was primarily used in Italy 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.
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, Hille Perl and Claas Harders of Germany, Annalisa Pappano of the United States, Laura Vaughan of Australia, and Paulina van Laarhoven of the Netherlands.