EUROPA 2014 – National Music Instruments: Zither stamp from Austria

EUROPA 2014 – National Music Instruments: Zither stamp from Austria

The common theme chosen by the Federation of European Postal Services is "national music instruments". While the zither is synonymous with an Alpine tradition, it has gained a foothold in modern ensembles as well.

The zither is a musical string instrument, consisting of many strings stretched across a thin, flat body. It is played by strumming or plucking the strings, either with one's fingers, or using a tool called a plectrum. Like a guitar or lute, a zither's body serves as a sound box, but unlike them, a zither has no neck. The number of strings varies, from as few as twelve to more than fifty.

The term "zither" organologically refers to a broad family of Eurasian musical instruments, but in modern usage most commonly refers to one of three specific instruments: the concert zither and its variant the Alpine zither and the fretless (or "guitar") zither.

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