The Pandura’s Place in Society

A statue of an everyday commoner playing the pandura

In Ancient Greek society, the pandura was often overshadowed by the more lyrical (no pun intended) lyre. The lyre became the instrument of legend, associated with divinity, played in the presence of royalty and at formal events by the “respectable” bards, at professional concerts, etc. The pandura and other lute-like instruments were therefore deferred to street instruments, considered informal and commonplace. Shlomo Pestcoe, an award winning musical historian, theorizes that the absence of the pandura in many ancient scripts and literature can actually be attributed to the popularity of the instrument itself. In essence, the writers and scholars of the time considered the pandura too “common” and “vulgar” to include in their writing.

For example, today, the guitar is a very popular instrument; it is common, and easily visible on street corners, yet it is not the focus of expensive black tie concerts, it is not really considered a “serious” musical instrument. The pandura is not the focus of operas or normally played at weddings or graduations or funerals, rather it was a casual instrument, played by the common man on the street. This connotation followed the pandura as the Greek Empire waned and the Roman Empire grew to power.


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