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That other Pythagoras

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That other Pythagoras

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:55 pm

Came across this Googling something about quintuplet time signatures in antiquity. This is quite interesting and clever:

"We also hear of him [Pythagoras of Zacynthus] as the inventor and virtuoso of an instrument called a tripod, on which he could modulate freely between the Dorian, Phrygian, and Lydian scales.  It had the general form of the holy tripod at Delphi.  The legs served as the frames for three differently tuned kitharas, the bowl made a big common soundbox, and the whole contraption was mounted on a revolving base so that Pythagoras could flip it round with his foot and bring one set of strings or another to his hands with no audible interruption" (M.L. West).

I would love to hear a reconstruction of such an instrument.  A kithara with a sound box amplifying the sound would be ideal for group performance.  I wonder only if such an instrument would have been used in rituals or initiations?  The Mousai are often depicted with kitharas (as well as tympanon/frame drums and krotala).  Makes you wonder if the tripod would be purely utilitarian or have a symbolic function as a sacred object, with its oracular connotations.
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