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. A typical color coding follows the common pattern being used on harps. All C-strings are red and F-strings are blue, black or green. Some variations are possible as well, such as using copper / bronze strings for both C and F and silver plated strings for all the other tones.
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