Probably originating in northern Africa, then evolving through Greek and Roman antiquity, the cittern is similar to the lute, but has wire strings and a flattened back; it too achieved great popularity in the 16th and 17th centuries. Cittern music is written as tablature, a form of notation that indicates finger locations within a graphical stylization of the instrument. Cittern players often use a plectrum, commonly known as a pick, to strum its strings, which may have accounted for its popularity throughout the Renaissance. In 18th-century England, the cittern was known as the English guitar. Americans often compare its rather bright, metallic sound to the more familiar banjo.
Mark Cudek plays the cittern, Renaissance and Baroque guitars, viol, crumhorn and recorder for the Consort. He is Director of the Peabody Renaissance Ensemble at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; he is also Founder and Director of the High School Early Music Program at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, MI, and he records and tours with the ensemble Hesperus. Trained as a classical guitarist (U. of Buffalo) and lutenist, Mark enjoyed a stint as a caf guitarist in the Virgin Islands before devoting himself to early music. An avid athlete, he has participated in several marathons and triathlons.