I am learning to play the nyckelharpa, a Swedish folk instrument with a tradition that goes back more than seven centuries. The modern, chromatic nyckelharpa features four played strings and twelve sympathetic strings that resonate and deepen the sound.

The instrument contains a row of wooden keys that contact the strings when pressed, effectively shortening the length of the string and raising (or lowering) the pitch. It is played with a short bow.

The keys (nycklar) produce notes in a fashion similar to pressing a string with one’s finger to the fingerboard of a violin. In the case of a nyckelharpa the keys are located under the strings and the tangents contact the string when each key is pressed. For more information please visit the American Nyckelharpa Association website.

Nyckelharpa Links: