The Pontian LYRA

A pontian Kemance from Turkey

The LYRA of the Greeks of Pontos (Black Sea region of Asia Minor) is also known as the "Kementche". It is the main instrument used in Pontian music. It is a bottle-shaped, 3-stringed fiddle played in the upright position. It is sometimes played by resting it on the knee when sitting, and sometimes it is held out in front.

Its small light weight design allows it to be held up for a long time and in some cases the musician would follow the first dancer around (even dance as well). This is mainly due to the Not so loud sound of the lyra.

The lyra usually has three strings which have several tunings. Common tunings include: a-a-d, e-a-d, and many others in 4ths (the strings are of 2 octaves ... La, Mi, Ci). Since the instrument was often played alone, the tuning was often done according to the preference of the musician and his voice's range.

The musicians usually play two or all three strings at the same time, utilizing the open string(s) as a sort of drone to the melody. Sometimes they play the melody on two strings at once, giving a primitive harmony in fourths. They tend to play with many trills and embellishments, and with the unusual harmonies.


The pontian lyra is said to be a descendant of the first lyra mentioned in Greek mythology. It was Orpheas the god of Music who created the lyra from a Turtle shell (see pic). However the Lyres of today look nothing like the lyres of old. The oldest lyra found in Greece was on the Island of Crete, it dated back to 1500 BC, it had 4 to 8 strings.

The Lyra is also mentioned in the Iliad and many more ancient text.

Lyra of the Ancient Greeks

In Greece today there are two types of Lyres

  • The Pear shaped - Crete, Thrace, Dodeka Islands, Asia Minor

  • The bottle shape - Pontos

The pair shaped Lyra has a short neck, wooden and also has 3 metal strings. Unlike the Pontian Lyra they are tuned like a Violine and sound very similar.



Played by the Pontians (Western region) it has 2 layers of 3 strings on top of each other. The bottom row holds a "drown" sound whilst the other play the tune. Not as easy to play.
Also played by the Pontians (Western region) it has 2 layers of 3 strings on top of each other. The bottom row holds a "drown" sound whilst the other play the tune.
LYRA of Thrace
A pear shaped lyra, some times more than one play at atime to increase the sound. Some put bells on the bow to add effects.

Asian Lyra


A pear shaped lyra it has its basis on a Violine. It has 4 strings and unlike the Pontian lyra you dont press down on the strings, hoxever, you press next to the string and touch it eith the top of your nail
A stamp set Greece Printed in 1985 as a music instrument collection.

The Pontian Lyra as used today in Greece and around the world. It is somewhat larger then it was years ago, giving it a sweeter sound and more melody.

1 . I Tepe - Top : Same as the body

To Kifal - Head : Same as the body

2 . Otia - Pegs (Ears): Same as the body

3 . Goula - Neck : Same as the body

4 . Spaler - Fingerboard (Slabbering bib) : Same as the body

5 . Kapak - Soundboard :

6 . Rothounia - Soundholes (Nostrals):

7 . Gaidaron - Bridge (Rider): Made from Pine

8 . Palikar - Stringholder (Stalward young man):

9 . Soma - Body : made of Plum, Mulberry, Walnut Jarha

10 . Stoular - Soundpost :

11 . Hordes - Strings : Were dried entrails but now metal strings (guitar and violine)

Doksar - Bow :

Tsaria - Bow's hair :


Depth 32cm -7cm