The baliset is a nine-stringed musical instrument played in ‘Dune’, which is played by strumming strings.

The Definitive Glossary for Dune

The Baliset evolved over the years from the Zithra to become a part of music in ‘Dune.’ Played by strumming, the instrument released chords and notes tuned to the Chusuk scale.

Baliset in Dune

The Baliset of Dune – Definition

The Baliset is a nine-stringed musical instrument used for entertainment in the Dune universe. Evolving for thousands of years, the Baliset becomes the primary instrument for music in the Padishah Empire.

After centuries of continuous development and advancement, the nine-stringed Baliset became an instrument of choice for many musicians. With an artistry method of creation and the perfection in sound, the Baliset was an instrument unmatched in eloquence and originality.

Physical Description and Transformation of the Baliset

The Baliset is a complex tool designed to create perfectly pitched notes. The instrument has a head, neck, turning nobs, nine strings, and a resonance chamber. Each Baliset gets inscribed with the name of its maker. The strap used to hold the instrument in place gets engraved with the name of its player. Each string on the Baliset gets tuned following a seven-tone scale with the eighth and ninth strings used for bass.

The Baliset is the descendant of a long line of instruments like the lyre, lute, and zythra. As space travel had limited spacing, most large musical instruments became obsolete with time; this led to the need for musical instruments with compact natures. The crohm-vellar, due to its nature, became a choice for music. From the crohm-vellar came the fardahggen and vintule, early ancestors of the Baliset. Over the years, the Baliset became widely popular due to space colonies using it as the primary source of entertainment.

During the time of Leto II, there was a rapid decline in the culture of the Baliset. With Leto II’s Golden Path plan, many people were severely affected, and this caused interest in the musical instrument to dim. Soon, studios could no longer find apprentices, and town squares were scarce without players. In a bid to restore its culture, the birth town of Varota on planet Chusuk organized an event to try and re-ignite interest in the Baliset.

The Baliset’s Tuning Process

Each string on the Baliset gets made so that its pitch compliments the ones it borders; this means that each one produces a pitch between the highest note of its lower neighbor and the lowest note of its upper neighbor. The pitch pattern on seven strings uses a quarter interval seven-tone scale starting from C and ending in C. The form evolves as so: C-F-B-E-A-D-C. The eighth and ninth strings are bass strings tuned to the melodic pitch of the chords produced by the remaining strings. The tuning of the Baliset makes it perfect for creating Semuta music.

How A Baliset Gets Made

The production of a Baliset involved intense focus and skill. After the Butlerian Jihad, all instruments and machines got banned. The Baliset, produced from elacca wood, was among the musical instruments prohibited due to its use of elacca wood; this led Ahdn-Hahd to explore stimic. With him discovering the feasibility of stimic, Balisets got produced in commercial quantities.

The techniques involved in creating a Baliset got formed by Ahdn-Hahd, and the processes are as follows:

  1. Fifty-seven sheets of stimic get heated with timed precision.
  2. The sheets get exposed for one hour under sunlight for 100 days. The sun rays give the stimic strength.
  3. After being placed under the sun, the sheets get put over a Baliset master form.
  4. The Baliset is then turned hourly for 40 days for heating and cooling. 
  5. The Baliset is given its unique characteristic sound through careful buffing and planning.
  6. The strings are then produced by stretching filaments of Stravidium to an optimum dimension.

The sound produced by the string comes from the speed of stretching.

Glossary Terms Associated With the Baliset

Here is a list of words associated with Baliset:

  1. Stravidium: Stravidium is a metallic chemical element used to create the strings of a Baliset. Its unique properties make it perfect for creating different sounds according to the stretching speed.
  2. Stimic: Stimic is a fibrous resin used in producing a Baliset’s frame.
  3. Crohm-vellar: The Crohm-vellar is a small-stringed tambourine that can get fixed to space suits.


Is the Baliset real?

The Baliset is a fictional instrument created by Frank Herbert in his science fiction novel ‘Dune.’ Comprising of nine strings played by strumming. The Baliset got played like a guitar.

Who plays the Baliset in Dune?

The Baliset got played by Gurney Halleck, Mentat and political advisor of Leto Atreides, Paul’s father. Using it to entertain everyone, Gurney Halleck strummed the musical instrument with elegance.

Did the Baliset lose importance in Dune?

With time, the Baliset grew out of relevance due to its culture fading away. During Leto II’s reign as emperor, the lack of apprentices in learning studios and the instrument price made it wane into irrelevance.

How does the Baliset produce its sound?

The Baliset produces sound when its strings get strummed. The strumming of the Baliset follows a specific style involving chord combinations according to the Chusuk scale.

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