Bar zither is class of musical instruments (subset of zither) within the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system for a type of simple chordophone (stringed instrument), in which the body of the instrument is shaped like a bar.
In the system, bar zithers are made up of musical bows and stick zithers. Musical bows have flexible ends, stick zithers are rigid or have only one flexed end. Bar zithers, whether musical bow or stick zithers, often have some form of resonator. Examples of resonators include the player's mouth, an attached gourd or an inflated balloon or bladder.
A stick-zither has a stick in place of a resonating body and always needs an additional resonator, generally a gourd, sometimes the mouth of the player.
Instruments may be monochords (single stringed) or polychord (multiple stinged). They may also be idiochords (string made from the bar or stick) or heterchords (string made of separate substance from the bar or stick.
Flanders, 16th century. European heterochord musical bow, using a bladder for a resonator. Bladder fiddle.
Burundi. Umuduri musical bow.
Borobudur, 9th century C.E. Stone relief showing girls playing stick zither and lute.
Belgian Congo 20th century. Stick zither, gourd resonator, heterochord.
Africa. Mvet, a stick zither from Africa. Hornbostel-Sachs didn't consider a mulitiple-string bar zither (or poly-heterochord bar zither).
Lake Arereco in Chihuahua, Mexico, 21st century. Stick zither called a "chapareque", Native American instrument. Heterochord bar zither, using mouth for resonator.
Rudra vina. Has frets.
India. Vichitra veena. No frets.
India, 1807. Pinak, a bowed. stick zither.
- von Hornbostel, Erich M.; Sachs, Curt (March 1961). "Classification of Musical Instruments: Translated from the Original German by Anthony Baines and Klaus P. Wachsmann". The Galpin Society Journal. 14: 20–21.
- Sachs, Curt (1940). The History of Musical Instruments, p.463. W. W. Nortan & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-393-02068-1
- Sachs, Kurt (1940). The History of Musical Instruments. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 4631.
in the Malay Archipelago, Madagascar and Zanzibar, the round stick is replaced by a short lath which the player holds on edge (lath-zither).