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Vulcan lute

A Vulcan lute

Constitution class recreation room

Spock playing the Vulcan lute

Vulcan lute on Aldea

A Vulcan lute on Aldea

The Vulcan lute (sometimes referred to as a Vulcan harp, Vulcan lyre, or Vulcan lyrette) was a twelve-stringed musical instrument played on the planet Vulcan that was tuned on a diatonic scale and noted to be very soothing. (VOY: "Innocence")

At Michael Burnham's graduation from the Vulcan Science Academy in 2249, a Vulcan lute was played by a female Vulcan musician. (DIS: "Lethe")

In 2259, Doctor Joseph M'Benga prescribed lute playing for Spock in hopes that music would help the Vulcan cope with his ever increasing emotions. (SNW: "The Broken Circle")

Spock later became proficient at playing the instrument, and was known to do so often, during his off-duty hours. (TOS: "Charlie X", "The Conscience of the King", "Amok Time", "The Way to Eden"; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

Spock also used the lute in his quarters when attempting to decipher the symbols on the alien obelisk on the planet Amerind, after deducing that they represented music. (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome")

Nyota Uhura was able to play the instrument, singing while playing "Beyond Antares" for Kevin Riley, listening in from Engineering shortly before an assassination attempt on his life. (TOS: "The Conscience of the King")

Tuvok was also a proficient Vulcan lute player. He often played his lute while reciting "Falor's Journey" to his youngest son. (VOY: "Persistence of Vision", "Innocence", "Riddles")

Melian, an Aldean musician, also owned a Vulcan lute. (TNG: "When The Bough Breaks")

In 2371 of the mirror universe, one of Intendant Kira Nerys' Vulcan eunuchs played a Vulcan harp for her while a second eunuch gave her a massage. (DS9: "Through the Looking Glass")

In 2381, Shara, a lower decker on the Vulcan cruiser VCF Sh'vhal, informed T'Gai that she was planning to compose an arrangement for the Vulcan lute after their second duty shift, and was thus unavailable to play chess. (LD: "wej Duj")


Background information[]

Spock and Uhura

Spock holding a Vulcan lute while conversing with Uhura in a deleted scene from "Elaan of Troyius"

In the final draft script of TOS: "Charlie X", this musical instrument was described as "a strange stringed guitar-like instrument that gives off unique and not at all earth scale semi-electronic sounds."

The Vulcan lute in "Charlie X" was designed by Wah Chang.

In the final revised draft script of TOS: "The Conscience of the King", the Vulcan lute played by Uhura was referred to as her "guitar".

Uhura is the only non-Vulcan shown playing an instrument of this type. Although Uhura actress Nichelle Nichols was actually a trained singer in her teenage years and her own voice was used for Uhura's singing in the episode, she didn't really know how to play the Vulcan lute. Hence, whereas her singing became an integral part of many personal appearances she made at Star Trek conventions, she didn't use a Vulcan lute to accompany her vocals. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 082)

In a deleted scene from TOS: "Elaan of Troyius", Spock revealed that he took second place in the All-Vulcan Music Competition, and that his father had taken first place. He also expresses his finding the playing of the instrument "relaxing". (Star Trek: Lost Scenes)

In VOY: "Innocence", the Vulcan lute is described as a five-stringed instrument tuned in a diatonic scale, but visibly has twelve strings. It is strongly suggested that the lute is instead tuned in a twelve-tone chromatic scale, since a seven-tone diatonic scale can fit in neither five nor twelve strings.

The description of the Vulcan lyrette from the original edition of the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual reads that this is "An unusually harmonious and melodic accompaniment or solo instrument, whose origin is lost in Vulcan antiquity. It combines the tonal qualities of a harp, lute, sitar, and to some extent, violin." They were usually made of Li'Pon and Sher Skah woods, with a Bahun'ahb inlay. The lowest pitch it could reach was 60 cps, and the highest was an astounding 3,180 cps.

The novel Dwellers in the Crucible, released in 1985, called this instrument a ka'athyra.

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