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plucked stringed musical instrument that was popular in the 16th-18th century. It had a shallow, pear-shaped body with an asymmetrical neck that was thicker under the treble strings. Derived from the citole, a similar 14th- and 15th-century instrument with gut strings, the cittern had four unison courses of wire strings. Diapasons, additional courses to reinforce the basses of chords, were also common. The strings were hitched to the instrument end and passed over a violin-type, or pressure, bridge. Tuning of the principal strings was B-G-D-E (Italian) or A-G-D-E (French) in the octave below middle C