The final stamp from the 1975 Greek set shows a kanonaki, or qanun, a stringed instrument widely played in SE Europe and the Middle East. It is played on the lap, and the strings are plucked - often with tortoiseshell picks. Various tunings are used, depending partly on what scales are customary in the musician's country.
In 1979 Papua New Guinea issued another set of 4 stamps showing musical instruments, SG 359-362. Here is an ocarina. Ocarinas are found widely across the world, and this family of instruments is believed to date back to over 10,000 years ago.
In 1977 East Germany issued a set of stamps of old musical instruments. Here is a viola da gamba from the mid-18th century. SG E1940. Note that it has 5 strings - in contrast to modern 4-stringed violins and violas.
From a 1979 set of 4 Malawi stamps, a kalimba (SG 440). The kalimba (or mbira) is an African instrument also known as a thumb piano, or thumb dulcitone. It is played by plucking the metal tines. When one tine is plucked, the neighbouring tines also vibrate, creating harmonic overtones.
Some old European musical instruments from the Leipzig Museum - East German stamps of 1979. From left to right: a lira da gamba; a serpent (the nearest modern instrument in sound is the tuba); a barrel lyre (a type of hurdy-gurdy); and a tenor flugelhorn. I love these old instruments. I heard the serpent once played by a Salvation Army officer on the Isles of Scilly, about 20 miles off the mainland of Cornwall.
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