A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Bandora

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BANDORA, Ital. Mandora, or Mandola; Neapolitan dial. Pandura; Span. Bandolon; Old Eng. Pandore, are the Romance names of varieties of the cither in the countries designated. Like the lute in size and in the form of the pear-shaped body, they are classed with the cither because they have generally wire strings (tuned in pairs) and are played with a plectrum of tortoiseshell or quill. The mandoline is a small and very beautiful instrument of the kind. These instruments, with their names, were derived from the East. In the heyday of the Renaissance they became very generally used to accompany the voice and support the recitals of improvisatori, as well as for solo performance. Although πανδουρα appears in Greek, it was not a true Greek instrument, but an exotic. Athenæus states that Pythagoras, writing about the Red Sea, says the Troglodytes made the pandoura of daphne, i. e. laurel, which grew near the seashore. According to Mr. Engel ('Musical Instruments,' 1874) the tambour or tamboura is their Eastern representative. There are several varieties of these pear-shaped instruments used in Turkey and Bulgaria. The large Turkish tamboura has a circular body, the open strings producing four tones: it has thirty-five frets of thin catgut bound round the neck and disposed for the intervals, smaller than halftones, belonging to the Arabic scale. The tamboura is also found in Persia, Egypt, and Hindostan. The ancient Egyptian nofre, hieroglyphic for 'good,' was a tamboura; and the Assyrians had an instrument of the kind, also played with a plectrum. The idea of tension would seem to be inherent in the first syllable of names of the bandora or tamboura family of instruments, preserving everywhere so remarkable an identity. (See Banjo, Calascione, Cither, Lute, Mandoline.)

[ A. J. H. ]