List of Musical Instruments by Hornbostel-Sachs Number: 321.21
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List of Musical Instruments by Hornbostel-Sachs Number: 321.21

This is a list of instruments by Hornbostel-Sachs number, covering those instruments that are classified under 321.21 under that system. These instruments may be known as bowl lyres.

3: Instruments in which sound is produced by one or more vibrating strings (chordophones, string instruments).
32: Instruments in which the resonator and string bearer are physically united and can not be separated without destroying the instrument
321: Instruments in which the strings run in a plane parallel to the sound table (lutes)
321.2: Instruments in which the string is attached to a yoke that consists of a cross-bar and two arms, with the yoke lying in the same plane as the sound-table (lyres or yoke lutes)
321.21: Instruments in which the resonator is bowl-shaped, either carved or natural

These instruments may be classified with a suffix, based on how the strings are caused to vibrate.

  • 4: Hammers or beaters
  • 5: Bare hands and fingers
  • 6: Plectrum
  • 7: Bowing
    • 71: Using a bow
    • 72: Using a wheel
    • 73: Using a ribbon
  • 8: Keyboard
  • 9: Using a mechanical drive


Instrument Tradition Hornbostel-Sachs classification Description
Baganda peoples of Uganda 321.21 Bowl lyre made of lizardskin with strings tied to a piece of wood inserted into two holes on two arms
Crete 321.21-71 Three-stringed fretted, pear-shaped instrument with a hollow body and a vaulted back, propped up on the knee
Greece, Ancient 321.21-5 Stringed instrument, strummed with a plectrum, with the free hand silencing unwanted strings, traditionally made from a tortoise shell
Kenya 321.21-5 3-foot-long (0.91 m) harp, plucked with both hands, made of wood and goat or antelope skin


  • von Hornbostel, Erich M.; Curt Sachs (March 1961). "Classification of Musical Instruments: Translated from the Original German by Anthony Baines and Klaus P. Wachsmann". The Galpin Society Journal. Galpin Society. 14: 3-29. doi:10.2307/842168. JSTOR 842168.


  1. ^ Wachsmann, Klaus (1964). "The Migration of Musical Instruments: Human Migration and African Harps". Journal of the International Folk Music Council. 16: 84-88. doi:10.2307/835087. JSTOR 835087.
  2. ^ Dawes, Kevin (October 2003). "Lyres and the body politic: studying musical instruments in the Cretan musical landscape". Popular Music and Society. 26.3 (21): 263. The island's "national" instrument, the lyra has become emblematic of the struggle that many Cretans experience in their attempt to retain a sense of a local identity.
  3. ^ "Review of Midiaeval Music: An Historical Sketch by Robert Charles Hope" (pdf). Saturday Review of Books and Art. New York Times. December 16, 1899. Retrieved 2007.
  4. ^ Roberts, Helen (February 1981). "Reconstructing the Greek Tortoise-Shell Lyre". Archaeology and Musical Instruments. 12 (3): 303-312. doi:10.1080/00438243.1981.9979805. JSTOR 124242.
  5. ^ Nidel, Richard (2005). World Music: The Basics. Routledge. p. 58. ISBN 0-415-96800-3. Much of Kenya's music is derivative of other Afropop forms, most obviously Congolese, but the singing, high-pitched guitar work, use of the national instrument, the nyatiti (a seven-stringed harp), and bottle percussion give it a unique, identifiable sound.
  6. ^ Verjee, Zain (August 30, 1999). "Journey through a rhythm nation". Kenya. BBC News. Retrieved 2008.
  7. ^ Radano, Ronald Michael; Philip Vilas Bohlman (2000). Music and the Racial Imagination. Houston A Baker, Jr. and Houston A. Baker. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-70199-9.

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