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Swedish fiddles with sympathetic strings


The hardingfele or hardanger fiddle is the national instrument of Norway and is still very common in norwegian folk music. A couple of things makes it different from a standard violin:

  • It has four or five sympathetic strings.
  • The melody strings (except for the e-string) is thin gutstrings which are not wound with wire or just half wound.
  • Extensive decorations such as intarsia of mother-of-pearl and painted patterns, so called roseing.
  • The instrument is tuned two to four semitones higher than the standard pitch
  • The hardanger fiddle usually has a lion head instead of a scroll but this might not be true for older instrument
  • The sound holes are cut with a different method.

The origin of the instrument is not proved and there are two hypothesises. Either the sympathetic strings was attached to an older norwegian type of bowed instrument as a result of the viola d'amore-trend in Europe or else is the origin norwegian. Research is in progress in Norway and it might give clues about the origin of swedish fiddles with sympathetic string as well.

For further information, see wikipedia

If you have information about fiddles with sympathetic strings that you like to share with me please email info [at] resoneramera [dot] se

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