How To Make Music Cards for the Plucked Psaltery

The plucked psaltery is a form of ancient music instrument that is only slightly younger than the harp. It is smaller, in different configurations, which can be played placed on the player’s lap or on a table. The strings can be plucked with the fingers, a pick or a plectrum. A strap can also be attached to the psaltery with the instrument hanging around the chest of the player when he or she needs to move around while performing. The plucked psaltery is the basis for the piano. What is very interesting about the plucked psaltery is that you do not have to know how to play it to make music. A music sheet is inserted under the strings and the player only needs to pluck the strings based on the notes on the music sheet.  Below are the instructions on how to make the music cards or sheets for the plucked psaltery.

  • Insert a piece of card stock or cardboard under the strings of the plucked psaltery. Mark the margins on all sides. Remove the board and cut out the shape.
  • Trace the outline of the music card on a piece of tracing paper or onion skin and cut it. Put the tracing paper over the strings. Tape the sides so the paper will not move. Mark the space between the bridges on top and bottom of the psaltery. Place dots on both sides corresponding to the alignment of the strings of the plucked psaltery. There are fifteen metal strings in a regular psaltery. Transfer these marks on the card stock with carbon paper. Slide the card stock again under the strings to check the final fit of the card.
  • Use this template to make the sheets of music for your favorite songs. Add the notes corresponding to the strings of the plucked psaltery. Instead of music notes, label the strings based on the key of your instrument. If your psaltery is in the key of C, label the notes from the bottom as C, D, E, F, G, A, B. C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C.
  • Choose folk songs and other songs with a simple beat and few repeating notes. Plucked psaltery only has a range of two octaves so most of the songs that you can play here are simple songs.
  • With the simplicity and short time to learn how the psaltery is played, this is a very ideal musical instrument for children and adults who want to make music. The sound produced by a plucked psaltery can be compared to the sound of tinkling bells, rather than plucked strings, which is very surprising.

You can buy a traditional plucked psaltery for less than one hundred dollars. The kit usually comes with a dozen music sheets, basically folk songs and well-loved songs like Amazing Grace, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, Sounds of Silence, On Top of Old Smoky and When the Saints Go Marching In to name a few. You can use any of these music cards as your template when you want to play other music.


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