The arrangement of strings on our lyres consists of two rows of strings tuned to two whole-tone scales, a semitone apart:
The upper row (right hand side): C - D - E - F# - G# - A#.
The lower row (left hand side): C# - D# - F - G - A - B.
Sometimes chromatic lyres with such string layout are referred to as "whole-tone lyres".
The following diagrams show the difference from other chromatic lyres with string arrangement resembling the layout of a traditional piano keyboard. The white keys are on the right hand side, the black keys are on the left hand side of a lyre.
One of the great advantages of the whole-tone arrangement is the fingering. The fingering patterns on a whole-tone lyre stay the same regardless of the key. For illustration, let's take a look at the major scale:
The musical pattern of a major scale ( "–" stands for a whole‐tone step, "/" for a semitone):
1 – 2 – 3 / 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 / 8
Fingering pattern on the whole‐tone lyre (R = right hand, L = left hand):
R – R – R / L – L – L – L / R
L – L – L / R – R – R – R / L
It does not matter in which key we play. The same fingering works in any key!
Traditional piano keyboard layout:
Strings of different colors can be used for easier orientation. On our lyres we usually use copper winding and gold plated steel to distinguish all C's and F's from other strings (typically silver plated copper and stainless steel). For even better visual aid, C and F strings can be color-coated, following a pattern commonly used on harps (C's are red, F's are black, blue or sometimes green).
Some advantages of the whole‐tone string layout:
‐ balanced fingering in all keys
- basic technique is fast to learn and easy to remember
‐ easy transposition ‐ fingering patterns stay the same in all keys
‐ balanced use of both hands in all keys always allowing a fluent movement
‐ possibie to reach wider range than on lyres with the traditional layout
‐ comfortable playing of arpeggios
‐ possible to play complex music on a single lyre
‐ new possibilities in music therapy
- great for improvisation