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There were singer-lutenists at the court in Palermo following the Norman conquest of the island from the Muslims, and the lute is depicted extensively in the ceiling paintings in the Palermo’s royal Cappella Palatina, dedicated by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily in 1140.

By the 14th century, lutes had disseminated throughout Italy and, probably because of the cultural influence of the Hohenstaufen kings and emperor, based in Palermo, the lute had also made significant inroads into the German-speaking lands.

Some modern Brazilian instruments feature an extra fifth course tuned a fifth lower than the standard fourth course.

Other mandolin varieties differ primarily in the number of strings and include four-string models (tuned in fifths) such as the Brescian and Cremonese, six-string types (tuned in fourths) such as the Milanese, Lombard and the Sicilian and 6 course instruments of 12 strings (two strings per course) such as the Genoese.

Each style of instrument has its own sound quality and is associated with particular forms of music.

Neapolitan mandolins feature prominently in European classical music and traditional music.

The soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections.Bactria and Gandhara became part of the Sasanian Empire (224–651 AD).Under the Sasanians, a short almond shaped lute from Bactria came to be called the barbat or barbud, which was developed into the later Islamic world's oud or ud.A distinct European tradition of lute development is noticeable in pictures and sculpture from the 13th century onward.As early as the beginning of the 14th century, strings were doubled into courses on the miniature lute or gittern, used throughout Europe.

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