A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Orpheoreon
ORPHEOREON, ORPHEORON, or ORPHARION. An instrument of the cither kind, with flat back, but with the ribs shaped in more than one incurvation. The varieties of the orpheoreon also differed from the usual cither in the bridge being oblique, rising towards the treble side. According to Prætorius ('Organographia,' Wolfenbüttel, 1619, p. 54) the orpheoreon was tuned like a lute in 'Kammerton' (a). [See Lute.] The strings were of brass or iron, in six or seven pairs, and were played with a plectrum. A larger orpheoreon was called Penorcon, and a still larger one Pandore,—Praetorius spells this Pandorra or Bandoer. According to his authority it was invented in England; to which another adds the name of John Rose, citizen of London, living in Bridewell, and the date of about 1560. It must however have been a rather different orpheoreon. Following Prætorius, the pandore, and we presume its congeners, had no chanterelle or melody string, and could therefore have been used only for accompaniment, like the common cither, sutoribus et sartoribus usitatum instrumentum. He gives cither tunings for several strings, including the common 'four-course' (b) and 'Italian' (c); old tunings (d), (e), often used an octave lower on the lute in France, and the old Italian six-course (f), but no other than the lute tuning above mentioned for the orpheoreon family. The player probably tuned as he chose. The forms 'Orpharion' and 'Pandora' occur in a book on the Lute and other instruments, entitled 'The Schoole of Musicke,' by Thomas Robinson, London, 1603. A copy is in the British Museum. There is another instrument which Prætorius describes as being like a pandore in the back; this was the Quinterna, or Chiterna. It differed, however, in other respects, as the ribs, belly, etc., were of simple outline, and the bridge was straight. He says it was tuned like the very earliest lutes (g), and depicts it in his illustrations as not unlike a guitar.
[ A. J. H. ]