Nyckelharpa

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A nyckelharpa
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A nyckelharpa

The nyckelharpa is a keyed fiddle traditional in Sweden. It is a string instrument or chordophone. Its keys are attached to tangents which, when the key is depressed, serve as frets to change the pitch of the string.

History

The nyckelharpa is similar to both a fiddle and a hurdy gurdy, and is known from Sweden since at least 1350, when it was carved on a gate in a church in Götaland. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the nyckelharpa was known throughout Sweden, Denmark and in Uppland. The latter has long been a stronghold for nyckelharpa music, including through the 1960s revival, which drew on musicians like Byss-Calle from Älvkarleby.

The best-known modern nyckelharpa player is probably Eric Sahlström, who was a major player, teacher, and builder of the mid 20th century. He helped re-popularize the instrument, and also made quite a few innovations in developing the modern nyckelharpa. Changes by Sahlström and August Bohlin made the nyckelharpa chromatic and straight, more violin-like instrument. In spite of these innovations, the nyckleharpa's popularity declined until the 1960s roots revival.

The nyckelharpa has been a prominent part of several revival groups later in the century, especially the acoustic trio Väsen and the more contemporary group Hedningarna.

Variants

There are at least four major variants of the nyckelharpa still played today, varying by the number and arrangement of keys, number and arrangement of strings, and general body shape. Some versions of the nyckelharpa have sympathetic strings which are not bowed directly but resonate with the other strings.

See also: Music of Sweden

External link

hu:Nyckelharpa

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