On the Subject of Swedish Under-Stringed Rustic Fiddles(1)

by Lars Söderström (translated by Wes Ludemann)

Since the beginning of the 1600's resonance strings have been used on various instruments as a way to change their timbre (tone color). Some instruments, for example the nyckelharpa(2) and Hardanger fiddle, have retained them on a permanent basis. Others, for example the violin and gamba, have had resonance strings only during certain eras, and their use is only a historical curiosity. Swedish rustic fiddles with resonance strings can be divided into four, possibly five, categories:

1) models from Skåne and Småland with four playing strings and eight resonance strings, 2) "conventional" fiddles with four or fewer resonance strings, 3) the Hardanger fiddle, 4) "experimental violins" and possibly 5) a Gotland variant with resonance strings in the body of the fiddle (rather than under the fingerboard).

Short historical review

In the third century CE the Roman rhetorician Quintilianus described the phenomenon of resonance: if two strings are tuned in unison and one is struck, the second also sounds. Early on this principle was used with a number of bowed instruments in India. The best known and perhaps oldest of these are the sarangi, an instrument with three or 4 gut strings and a varying number of metal resonance strings (usually between 11 and 15, although up to 39 are found). The sarangi probably originated in Central Asia and first came to India as a rustic instrument. It is used primarily for accompaniment, and, as I understand, is played approximately like a stråkharpa(3). During the 15th century the sarangi also became popular as an accompaniment for singing at the Indian courts. During this time European travelers to the East Indies undoubtedly got to hear much of the instrument.

Travelers probably brought the principle of resonance strings back to England, for that is where we find the earliest European examples of their use. In 1618 Pretorarius writes in his book Organographia that the use of resonance strings is an English discovery. Others name a specific person as the inventor. In Musurgia (1650), Kircher is of the opinion that a certain Duke of Sommerset was the first person to use resonance strings on stringed instruments. Playford, in Musick's Recreation on the Viol Lyraway (1661), attributes this honor to the the court musician Daniel Farrant. In spite of the uncertainty over the person or persons responsible, it is quite clear that bowed instruments with resonance strings date back to the early 1600's, and that this development came first to England and then spread across the rest of Europe.

The first European instrument made with resonance strings was the so-called viola bastarda. In size it resembled the cellos, and had 6-7 playing strings and 6-8 resonance strings. It had successors such as the violetta bastarda, baryton, the under-stringed viola da gamba, violetta marin, the marin trumpet, and finally, perhaps the best-known instruments, the viola d'amore, violino d'amore and English violet.

The viola d'amore, which had its days of glory during the middle of the 1700's onward, probably originally developed from the discant gamba. It differs from the gamba in that it is played against the arm or under the chin instead of against the knee. Moreover it lacks a strap, and because of a different playing technique it has a narrower bout(4) and little or no bulge on the back.

The earliest literary reference to an instrument with the name viola d'amore comes from Evelyn's Dictionary (1679)(5) which mentions "the viol d'amore of 5 wyre-strings plaid with a bow, being but an ordinary violin, play'd on lyre way by a German."(6). This citation raises more questions for me than it answers. I have not found out what "wyre" means, but it likely is an older form of the word "wire" (Swedish vajer). If so, it could indicate either that the instrument had wire-wound gut strings, which I doubt, or that it had metal strings either twisted and/or untwisted.

Most interesting to me is that Evelyn does not mention the viola d'amore having resonance strings, which later was considered to be almost the most characteristic detail of the instrument. I consider it quite clear that Evelyn was acquainted with the phenomenon of resonance-stringed instruments, for Daniel Fryklund cites Evelyn's Dictionary as referring to them on other instruments. Something that can strengthen the assumption that early versions of the viola d'amore did not have resonance strings is the existence of a number of five-stringed instruments built by the German instrument builder Joachim Tielke, active in Hamburg during the end of the 1600's and beginning of the 1700's. He was an instrument builder whose production is surprisingly well preserved, probably because of his predilection for richly decorating his instruments. These instruments lack under-strings but are still called viola d'amore in the literature because they fulfill all the rest of the criteria. We know Joachim Tielke was well acquainted with the use of resonance strings, for there still exist a number of his instruments, including a pair of barytons, that have them. Incidentally, one of these viola d'amore instruments is felt to have the original tailpiece. This tailpiece has small metal pins instead of holes to hold the strings, which could mean that the instrument had had metal strings.

In his own discussion of the viola d'amore Anders Rosén also cites the same quotation in Evelyn's Dictionary(7). Rosén translates "lyre way" as a description of the instrument's tuning, something about which I'm a little doubtful(8). I would rather accept the possibility that on this occasion the player used the type of viola da gamba "played against the knee."

Certainly the viola d'amore had acquired resonance strings by the early 1700's. There exists an instrument of this type built in Bayern dated 1720. The earliest literary reference to a viola d'amore with resonance strings is by Joseph Majer in the book Neu-eröffneter Theoretisch- und Pracktischer Music Saal (1741). Joseph Majer mentions no less than 17 tunings intended for the viola d'amore with 6 playing strings. Eisel states in his pamphlet Musicus (1738), that the C-major and c-minor tunings are the most common. There is also tuning in fifths, which is most common today, and, later even D-major tuning. For a five stringed instrument, C-major tuning would have been g, c1, e1, g1, c2 or e2, while c-minor tuning would have been g, c1, eb1, g1, c2 or e2. In his work on the viola d'amore from 1921, Daniel Fryklund states that the Austrian Jacob Steiner (1617-1683) was the first to build this type of instrument. Most of the older instruments had 5 playing strings. For later instruments, the combination of 7 playing strings and 7 resonance strings is the most common. In general, the number of playing strings and resonance strings have been the same, although exceptions are found. Fryklund states that he has met with the following combinations that deviate from that pattern, given here with the number of playing strings first: 3+6, 6+7, 7+6, 7+5. He adds that the number of playing strings never exceeds seven, but that the number of resonance strings can be as many as 16. An interesting variant in this connection is the English violet. The name can be interpreted as a synonym for the viola d'amore, but it is customarily used for a larger type of instrument with a different body shape, most often with the stringing 7+14. Such an instrument built in 1725 in Mannheim by Jacob Rouch is in Stockholm's Music Museum. Fryklund considers that the resonance strings of the English violet "hade sannolikt stämning i 'Doppelchöire'," i.e., adjacent pairs of strings were probably tuned in unison. I find this statement to be perplexing, for quite likely pairing ought to diminish the effect of resonance strings rather than amplifying it.

The Skåne/Småland model

The most special variant of Swedish under-stringed rustic fiddles is the Skåne/Småland model with 4 playing strings and 8 under strings. It has a violin's body shape, the violin's f-holes (in contrast to the viola d'amore's "fire-flame" or "burning sword" sound holes), and smaller dimensions than the modern violin (yet not as short as the hardingfele). Above all, the pegbox is in two levels, with the playing strings in the upper level and the resonance strings in the lower. The pegbox often terminates with a toothless lion's head having its sides in line with the peg box.

This instrument spread from a core region in eastern Småland, southward to Skåne and, in the opposite direction, up to Blekinge and Östergötland. The tradition of playing these fiddles has lived on into our days, as evidenced by recordings by the spelman Edvin Karlsson which now can be found in Småland's archives. Another documented spelman is Vilhelm "Spelville" Andersson, who plays on a fiddle with four under-strings that has a one-level pegbox. Other variants of this type of instrument have been two under-strings in a one-level peg box (known as a låtfiol) and five or six under-strings in a two-level peg box.

How far back this tradition stretches is difficult to say. However, a hint can be gotten from extant instruments. Stockholm's Music Museum has a fiddle signed Johan George Moethe i Engelholm 1736 that has 8 metal pins at the back [of the tailpiece?] which indicates to me that it could be a rebuilt under-stringed fiddle of the above model(9). As far as I know there are possibly two more instruments of this type in Stockholm's Music Museum. The one instrument I have seen there lacks a signature. Daniel Fryklund refers in 1921 to an instrument, then in the Nordic Museum's collection, with the inscription Hans Severin Nyberg uti Örkeljunga 1760. This instrument apparently is now also in the Music Museum. On the record "Kärleks Fiol," Anders Rosén plays a fiddle of this type built in 1776 in Stockholm by an unknown builder (shown in the photos to the left). This fiddle ought now to be found with Lennart Hjelm at Hjelms Violinateljé in Stockholm. This instrument is notable for a pegbox that ends with a man's head, apparently of the same breadth as the pegbox itself. A fiddle neck with attached two-level pegbox dated 1699 is preserved in Småland's museum. If this dating is correct, this is the oldest instrument of this type that I know of. A number of other unsigned instruments are preserved, among them Edvin Karlsson's fiddle and a fiddle in the Karlshamn museum. Magnus Gustafsson has seen them, and guesses that most were built some time in the early 1700's.

I have not seen any illustrations in the historical literature of instruments with a two-level pegbox. There is, however, a painting from some time in the early 1700's that shows a fiddle lying on the poet Tegnér's tea table. This fiddle has four under-strings in a single-level pegbox. Looking at tapestry paintings, which have a special tradition in this district, one can imagine at first glance that they almost exclusively depict fiddles with four under-strings. Closer scrutiny reveals that they are ordinary violins. The tapestry painters show the backsides of the tuning pegs for the G and D strings so scrupulously that the pegbox has become disproportionately long.

As to how the tradition of these instruments arose, one must, as always in such situations, refer to guesswork. The most usual explanation encountered is that they are local variants of the viola d'amore. If the dating of 1699 on the neck preserved in Smålands museum is correct, it is one of the earliest examples of under-stringed instruments that I came across. However, I am not fully convinced that the viola d'amore had under-strings at that time.

Our knowledge of instrument builders in this region indicates that the area around Ängelholm was a center for them. Here we find several of Sweden's earliest documented fiddle builders, namely Arwit Rönnegren and Johan George Moete. As previously mentioned, the Music Museum in Stockholm has an instrument of Moete's [spelled Moethe on the label] which most likely had eight resonance strings. However, if the neck in Småland's museum is correctly dated, Moete could not have built it, for at that time he would have been only about 10 years old. However, at this time Rönnegren ought to have been in his 20's, so it would have been possible for him to have built it. These two builders ought to have known, or at least to have known of, each other since they lived only several [Swedish] miles from each other, and since their instruments have strong similarities.

It appears that either both of them drew inspiration from, or that one or both of them, had been apprenticed to the previously mentioned Joachim Tielke. If true, they ought then to have been familiar with the use of resonance strings, but they probably did not come into contact there with the viola d'amore with resonance strings. If not, the indication is that either the Skåne/Småland type of instrument was an independent discovery, or else they heard rumors of the viola d'amore and then built an instrument of their own design.

It is also possible that fiddle makers of this era were influenced by the Hardanger fiddle tradition in Norway. I have no direct evidence that there was any cultural exchange with Norway at this time, but it is worth noting that pols-type melodies called "Norske" are found in fiddler's books from the district. Moreover, a great variety of different tunings are documented in the district, including one with the base string tuned down to F, a tuning relatively common for Norwegian Hardanger fiddle tunes, but one I have not encountered elsewhere in Sweden. Another phenomenon worth mentioning is that both Rönnegren and Moete used to crown the pegbox with a toothless lion's head, whose sides followed the lines of the pegbox so that it was relatively narrow. If we compare these heads with the head on the Jaastafela (more on this later), the similarity is striking. If in spite of all this, the Skåne/Småland type of instrument was derived from the viola d'amore, I would like to believe that it comes from the English violet instead, for it, like the Skåne/Småland fiddle, typically had twice as many resonance strings as playing strings.

Of the instruments that I have seen, the choice of strings was gut for the playing strings and metal for the resonance strings, similar to those described for the viola d'amore.

Under-stringed fiddles in other provinces.

If little is documented about the Skåne/Småland type of fiddle, the case is even worse for other types. These instruments are, of course, not a homogenous group, but involve isolated players and instrument builders who sought a certain "sound" by trial and error. This phenomenon of ingenious fiddlers has been found in the whole country, from Skåne in the south to Ångermanland in the north. The most common approach has been to put four resonance strings on an otherwise standard fiddle.

Although the existence of this instrument type in Skåne has already been discussed, I will still mention several more of the interesting finds from this region. Daniel Fryklund describes one that he calls a "very ungainly and poorly built instrument" which "closely resembles a tenor viola" and which has the same sort of lion's head as the other Småland instruments I described earlier. In Jönköping, Olle Paulsson (founder of DRONE records) found a fiddle with two under strings, which to his vexation had been sold when he returned to study it more closely.

Many references to fiddles with resonance strings from other regions of Sweden can be found. Fryklund writes "In a remote Ångermanland village, according to testimony of fully trustworthy persons, there is a clock maker and instrument builder, coming from a long line of fiddlers, who had as his speciality 'improving' ordinary fiddles by fitting them with under-strings." As evidence of the nyckelharpa's status in Uppland, Leffler states "that a elementary school teacher in Edbo, Lars Hult (1808-1886), who was interested in music, made a fiddle fitted with four sound-amplifying steel strings, (ljumsträngar(10)), which were stretched under the finger board, the arch of the bridge, and the tailpiece, and were tuned in harmony with the playing strings." In Svenska låtar, Södermanland (1930), Carl F. Persson relates that he remembers from his home district: "A cobbler named Hellgren had eight strings on his fiddle of which half were drone(11) strings placed under the fingerboard and tailpiece." Another cobbler who played on eight-stringed special fiddles was Göran "Göra" Andersson (1886-1939) from Visnum in eastern Värmland. Inspired by the beautiful courtship calls of the orre (black grouse), he built his orrefiol, or black grouse fiddle, which either had four under strings or eight playing strings. It is hard to decide since the instrument no longer exists and pictures of it are rather indistinct. Jan Ling, in his book Nyckelharpan, refers to a statement attributed to F. Walter, Nor, Järvsjö: "The violin had in the beginning three strings which rested on the bridge, then up to five which went through the bridge under the fingerboard - ljumstränger. Fiddlers at weddings have used this method up to recent times. Norwegian rustic fiddlers still use ljumsträngar today. The last one I have seen use ljumsträngar was Karl Sved in Delsbo."

Since the Swedish-Norwegian border is not a musical boundary, I consider it worth mentioning that a fiddle maker in Røros told me that he had once been asked to repair an older fiddle with four under-strings which, according to him, was built in the district. There is also evidence in Røros for a fiddle with one under-string. It was built by the fiddler Benjamin Surland, better known as "Benjamin Franklin of Feragen," who is said to have built it using as his only tool a pocketknife. It is marked 1792 or 1797 and had one ljuosträng under the bass string. However this string was removed when the fiddle was restored by J. L. Jonsen in Funäsdalen in 1916. The fingerboard and tailpiece were replaced at the same time. Björn Aksdal writes "We recognize the same phenomenon from Swedish fiddles of the 1700's," but doesn't go into more detail. According to Rosén, a fiddle with one under-string has been common in Hälsingland.

Another fiddle variant, which doesn't quite fall within the framework of under-stringed fiddles, incorporated a double playing string, e.g. two e-strings or two bass strings. The Dalarna fiddler Hol-Anders Andersson had double e-strings. However Anders Rosén tried this and does not recommend it, for according to him, the intonation becomes all too distressing. I have heard rumored that there was a Lapp Nils fiddle with a double bass-string but I have not been able to confirm this. This might have been of the same model as Surland's fiddle.

Groddafelan [from Gotland]

The groddalira(12) is, of course, relatively well known in folk music circles, but it is probably less well known that it was sometimes used to accompany an under-stringed fiddle. Opinion is divided as to this fiddle's appearance. August Fredin writes about the Groddakarlarnas(13) fiddles: "In order to strengthen the sound they had metal under-strings inside [italics by Lars Söderström] the fiddle."(14) On the other hand Ture Carlsson writes in his 1953 series of articles on Groddakarlarna: "as a rule Lars played the first part on a fiddle, Anders played the clarinet, and 'Jaken' answered with the second part on his so-called Hardanger fiddle, which in reality was a usual fiddle with an extra pegbox added. It had four underlying resonance strings to give greater resonance and fullness. Their father, 'Grodd-Ole,' accompanied or seconded everything on a fiddle or a lira." I have been in contact with Gotland's fornsal(15) concerning this subject but they knew nothing of it so the riddle remains unsolved.

If it is true that this instrument really had its resonance strings inside the body, then we should accept that the resonance differed so much from that of usual under-stringed fiddles that it should be considered to be a unique variant. That an interior placement of resonance strings would function well is shown by this short announcement dating from 1895: "Professor Bruno Wollenhaupt of New York has had built a violin furnished with twelve extra strings which reproduce the halftones within an octave. When the violin is played, these strings vibrate in resonance with the ordinary strings over which the bow is drawn. The instrument by this means gets a much louder volume and richer tone. By means of an imperceptible movement of his chin the violinist can operate a damper which entirely or partly suppresses the resonance of the helping strings. Resonance strings can also be mounted on violas, cellos and contra basses."(16)

The significance of the Hardanger fiddle in Sweden

A great deal has been written about the Hardanger fiddle, filling meters of shelves, and its age and origin have been speculated upon freely. I am probably not able to supply anything new to these speculations, but I think that a short history is useful, without its being seen as an absolute truth or a contribution to the debate.

The oldest instrument found is the so-called Jaastadfele(17), with the much debated dating of 1651. The next recorded date, 1719, is for a Hardanger fiddle of Anders Andersson from Hardanger. The gap between the dates of these two instruments can be explained by fact that instruments are rather fragile, wear out and are thrown away. Another explanation is that when an older instrument does comes apart, pieces of it are replaced, and after that dating is almost impossible to do.

After a jump in time up to 1753 we come to perhaps the best known of the older Hardanger fiddle makers, Isak and Trond Botnen. They were once considered to be the originators of the Hardanger fiddle, but that theory has been discarded. It is likely that Isak Botnen built Hardanger fiddles earlier than 1753, based both on the quality of the instruments, and on the fact that by then he was 90 years old. It is even likely that Isak Botnen was acquainted with Ole Jonsen Jaastad for they lived only about 30 km from each other and had an age difference of only 42 years.

This possibility is one of the indications that the dating of the Jaastadfele is correct. Most convincing to me, however, is that when the belly was removed, investigation established that the name label was fastened with the same glue used to build the fiddle, and that the ink used was the same for the name as for the date.

It has been speculated that the Hardanger fiddle could either have originated from an earlier type of instrument, the fidla(18), or else been derived from the Italian violin and viola d'amore. Fidlor in Norway have had many different body shapes, but none that resembled that of the Hardanger fiddle. The Hardanger fiddle could possibly have inherited its flat bridge and fingerboard from the fidla, but I believe its body shape is derived from the Italian violin, modified to suit an older rustic Nordic tone ideal, to get a sound perhaps nearer to that of the fidla. The under-strings of the Hardanger fiddle are considered to derive from the viola d'amore, but if the dating of the Jaastadfele is correct, I believe that to be impossible.

Anders Rosén states that certain medieval fiddlor and lira da braccias from the 1500's have had bourdon strings. If he is correct, the inspiration for the Hardanger fiddle could certainly have come from them. I have not, however, seen this information anywhere else.

More probably the knowledge of using resonance strings comes from the British Isles, where, as earlier mentioned, the principle is believed to have been introduced in the 1600's. We know that a large amount of trade occurred between Scotland and western Norway from the 1500's through the 1800's. As a result, a large exchange of culture occurred, observable in both music and dance. I believe that it to be not at all unreasonable that resonance-stringed instruments were a subject of conversations with Scottish seamen during the early 1600's, and that they could have inspired either Ole Jonsen Jaastad or some of his contemporary colleagues in Vestland. It is, of course, in Western Norway that the Hardanger fiddle tradition has existed longest and flourished most strongly up to the present time.

That is why it is remarkable to find that the Hardanger fiddle has been played in Värmland and Western Dalarna. In spite of their proximity to Norway, their distance from the areas of Hardanger fiddle tradition is great. I have come across two older Hardanger fiddles originating in Värmland. One is owned by the instrument maker Uno Kallin. It had belonged to the fiddler Magnus Olsson (1824-1910) from Arvika. This instrument has an inscription that perplexes me somewhat. It says "Gunnar Helland ??34". This ought to be the Gunnar Olsen Haugen (later Helland) who married Erik Jonsen Helland's daughter. Erik Jonsson Helland lived from 1816 to 1868, which means that Gunnar hardly could have married into the Helland clan in 1834, and by 1934 Magnus Olsson, whom we know owned it, was no longer living. My guess then is that the dating really ought to be 1864 or 1884. The alternative is the existence of a hitherto unknown Gunnar Helland which appears quite unlikely. This instrument today is in completely playable condition.

However, such is not the case with the other Hardanger fiddle of Värmland origin. At the present, it is in the possession of Sten Andersson in Jämtland, and he got it from his former wife's father, who had bought it in Fryksdalen from one Ragnvald Johansson. I have not been able to reach Ragnvald who presumably lives in Ekshärad, so I have had no success in tracking it any further back. It has no name label, and has a horsehead with what resembles an Egyptian helmet instead of the traditional lion's head, and the back of the peg box is flat. It appears to have been over-painted so it is hard to tell how ornate its decorations are. However, two parallel zig-zag patterns can still be discerned on both the back and belly.

Both of these Hardanger fiddles have four under strings. In addition Anders Rosén found a Hardanger fiddle in Nås in Western Dalarna which has now been sold to a museum in Vestlanne in Norway.

The presence of these Hardanger fiddles in Sweden makes it is quite possible that the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle has been the inspirational source for many of the Swedish experimental violins.

Playing on under-stringed fiddles today

Under-stringed fiddles had a renaissance during the "folk music wave" of the 1970's. The first player to take them up was Anders Rosén, who introduced a model built by the Norwegian Kåre Leonard Knudsen. It has two under strings like the Swedish låtfiol. It was quite well received, and we still sometimes see them at fiddlers gatherings. Kåre Leonard also built an instrument for Pelle Björnlert, after the Skåne/Småland model, with eight under-strings, but as far as I know he is almost alone in playing such a fiddle today.

Leif Stinnerbom also used a låtfiol on the recording "Hoppesving" with Mats Edén and Inger Stinnerbom. When Lief and Mats joined with the band Groupa, they both began to use a viola d'amore type instrument with five playing strings and five resonance strings built by Per Hardestam. Hardestam instruments furthermore became the essential "must" for the trend-followers of the early 1980's. Currently, Mats uses a specially designed fiddle built by Anders Stake with a more "modern," little stronger, sharper sound.

Fiddlers Magnus Gustavsson and Toste Länne(19) are also using fiddles with under-strings of the låtfiol type.

I am absolutely certain that these types of instruments have a future in today's folk music movement, partly because so many of the "idols" use them, and also musicians are now more than ever on the hunt for "new" acoustical sounds.


1) Aksdal, Björn, SmeJens: Spelman og sme.
2) Andersson, Nils, Svenska Låtar Södermanland.
3) Björndal, Arne, Og fele ho let.
4) Blom, Jan Petter, et.al., Arne Björndals hundraårs minne.
5) Ture, Carlsson, Groddakarlarna och spelmanstraditionerna från Grodda v, Gotlands Allehanda 1953-07-08
6)Fredin, August, Gotlandstoner.
7) Fryklund, Daniel, Bidrag till kännedom om viola d'amore, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, 1921. Viola di bardone, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, 1922.
8) Gustavsson, Magnus, Axel Sjölander: spelman i grönadal.
9) Gustavsson, Magnus et.al., Visor i Småland.
10) Hellwig, Günther, Joachim Tielke: ein lauten und violen macher der barock zeit.
11) Ling, Jan, Nyckelharpan.
12) Nilsson, Anne, Fioler.
13) Rosén. Anders, Kärleks-fiol, Klang av understrängar (LP liner notes). På vandring med Leisme Per (LP liner notes).
14) Värmlands spelmansförbund, Spelmannen (nr. 3 1988).
15) Personal conversations with: Magnus Gustafsson, Björn Aksdal, Håkan Andersson, Olle Paulsson, Magnus Kronlund, Lennart Gybrant, Uno Kallin, Stefan Andersson.


(1) The original title is: "Över ämnet Svenska understrängade folkliga fioler"
(2) Swedish keyed fiddle. "Introducing the Cast," a more detailed description of the different instruments referred to in the text can be found immediately after this article. All footnotes are by Wes. [Remarks] are by Wes.
(3) It is, however, not stopped with the backs of the fingers.
(4) The bout is the 1.1 to 1.2 mm thick strip of wood that comprises the side-wall that separates the top and bottom of the instrument.
(5) written by John Evelyn (1620-1706), an English diarist.
(6) as quoted in Og fele ho let by Arne Björndal.
(7) Rosen claims the book is called EvelynÕs Diary. For more information on rustic fiddles with resonance strings, see the extensive article in the liner notes of Anders RosénÕs LP "Kärleksfiol, Klang av understränger," Hurv KRLP-8. An English translation is included.
(8) See "Lyra viol" in "Introducing the Cast." I think that RosénÕs interpretation is most likely correct.
(9) Lars writes: "en fiol med signeringen Johan George Moethe in Engelholm 1736 som har 8 metallstift baktill som indikerar..." If he is referring to metal pins on the backside of the tailpiece, it is also possible that the tailpiece was borrowed from another instrument.
(10) According to Jan LingÕs book Nyckelharpan, ljumsträngar (and ljomsträngar) are dialect words for unbowed resonanssträngar (resonance strings).
(11) LarsÕ article uses the Swedish term bordunsträng. A drone or bourdon string usually refers to a string that is bowed continuously producing a low-pitched note while the melody is played on the higher-pitched strings.
(12) Grodd, or grodda, is a gård (farm) name.
(13) Karl - fellow, guy, boy.
(14) August FredinÕs quote is: "För att stärka ljudet hade de s. k. understrängar av metall inuti fiolen." Lars interprets inuti to mean that the resonance strings could have been inside the body of the fiddle rather than just under the fingerboard. I think that Fredin most likely was describing the latter arrangement (he does refer to them as understrängar). The subsequent quote by Ture Carlsson makes reference to a fiddle similar to the hardingfele.
(15) Fornsal - Antiquities room?
(16) In LarÕs article this announcement was accompanied by an illustration that was poorly reproduced on the fax copy that I had. It seems to show a fiddle with a standard peg box (with four pegs) and a slightly raised section on the top of the instrument running from where the neck attaches down to the end of the tailpiece that presumably covered the resonance strings inside the body of the instrument.
(17) Jaastad fiddle, now on display at the Historical Museum in Bergen. It is smaller than the modern hardingfele, has only two under-strings, and is modestly decorated.
(18) fidla – a medieval fiddle with the pegs projecting upward from the tailpiece. (The "d" should be written with a short crossing line near the top of the stem, but this character does not exist in html.)
(19) Magnus Gustavsson and Toste Länne played their låtfioler at the Music and Dance of Southern Sweden (Småland) Festival in San Carlos, CA, on October 12-13, 1996. They will be featured at the Southern California Scandia Festival in Julian over the Thanksgiving weekend in 1997.

Introducing the Cast

by Wes Ludemann

I had difficulty keeping track of all the instruments mentioned by Lars Söderström in his article. With heartfelt thanks to the Harvard Dictionary of Music, here are some definitions. Except for the stråkharpa, which is a bowed lyre, all the instruments discussed belong to either the viol or the violin families of the bowed lutes. Entries are listed alphabetically.

Baryton: A member of the viol family that might be regarded as a viola da gamba provided with sympathetic strings, or a larger viola dÕamore.

Discant gamba or descant viol: A name used for the pardessus de viole, a viol tuned a fourth above the treble viol. The name was also used for the treble viol.

English violet: A larger version of the viola dÕamore with seven bowed and 14 or 15 resonance strings.

Fiddle: Colloquial for the violin and similar instruments, particularly the folk varieties used to accompany dancing. A term also used for the primitive ancestor of the violin, such as fidla, fiddla, fidel, fithele and vielle.

Fiol: Swedish name for either fiddle or violin.

Groddafiol: A folk fiddle from Gotland, described in the text.

Hardingfele (Nor.), Hardingfela (Swed.), Hardanger fiddle (Eng.): A Norwegian folk instrument shaped somewhat like the violin, but slightly smaller, with a deeper belly, flatter bridge, four playing strings and 4 or 5 metal resonance strings.

Jaastadfele: Oldest surviving Hardanger fiddle. Described in the text.

Lira: A 15th and 16th century type of violin having a wide neck with front pegs, drone strings, and a slightly pear-shaped body. The lira da braccio was held in the arm, the lira da gamba between the knees.

Lute: The name for a large class of stringed instruments having a neck. It is divided into two families: plucked (lutes and guitars) and bowed (viols and violins, etc). The term commonly refers to a plucked stringed instrument having a round body in the shape of a halved pear, a flat neck with 7 or more frets, and a separate pegbox set perpendicular to the neck.

Lyra viol: In size between the tenor and bass, also called viola bastarda. The lyra viol or Òbass viol lyra-wayÓ as John Playford called it (1658), was tuned in fifths and fourths unlike the other viols but like the older lira da gamba, hence the name lyra-way.

Lyre: The name for a class of instruments having a yoke, i.e., two projecting arms connected at their upper ends by a crossbar.

Låtfiol: A fiddle with two resonance (sympathetic) strings, common during the 1600-1700's in southern Sweden, and decorated much like the hardingfele. Ref: Toste Länne.

Nyckelharpa or Keyed fiddle. Swedish folk instrument. The modern chromatic version has four bowed strings, three of which are stopped by posts attached to keys, and twelve resonance strings. For more information, see Jan LingÕs Nyckelharpan, or ÒThe History and the Development of the Nyckelharpa,Ó Northern California Spelmanslag News, Fall 1993.

Orrefiol: ÒBlack grouse fiddle,Ó described in the text.

Sarangi: An Indian folk instrument coming in a variety of strange shapes.

Stråkharpa: The stråkharpa or tagleharpa is called tallharpa in Estonia and jouhikko in Finland. It is a bowed lyre having three or four strings. The melody is played on the first and/or second strings, stopping them with the backs of the fingers of the left hand. The remaining string(s) are bourdon strings.

Tromba marina: A late medieval bowed instrument, consisting of a tapering three-sided body, 5 to 6 feet long, with a single string. The string was not stopped, but lightly touched with a finger to produce harmonic notes, the bow playing between the stopping point and the nut. Inside the large sound box were 20 or more resonance strings tuned in unison with the playing string. The left foot of the bridge, shorter than the right, was free to vibrate against the soundboard, resulting in a drumming noise.

Viol family: A family of stringed instruments in use mainly during the 1500's and 1600's, replacing the various types of medieval fiddle and in turn superceded by the violin family. Characteristics compared to the violin: sloping shoulders, flat back, six strings, deep ribs, generally fretted, C-shaped sound holes, and wider and less arched bridge. Tuning followed that of the lute, i.e. in fourths around a central third. Three standard sizes were used: treble viol, tenor viol, and bass viol.

Viola bastarda: Another name for the Lyra viol

Viola da gamba: Another name for the bass viol.

Viola dÕamore: An instrument the size of a treble viol but having resonance strings made of thin wire stretched behind the bowed strings, which were made of gut. Unlike the viols proper, it had no frets and was bowed like a violin. The name probably refers to the instruments Òscroll,Ó which usually was fashioned like a blindfolded face of the god Amor (sometimes with a helmet, sometimes bareheaded). There also existed a viola dÕamore without resonance strings and with metal bowed strings.

Violet: A name sometimes given to the viola dÕamore.

Violetta: A 16th century three-stringed instrument of the violin type. Also another name for the viol, thus violetta marina for the viola dÕamore, violetta piccolo for a small viol, violetta bastarda for a nonstandard size.

Violin family: Most common are the violin, viola and cello. Ancestors of the violin include the fiddle (had a flat back and a peg disc with front tuning pegs), the rebec (had a rounded back and lateral tuning pegs), and the lira (had a wide neck with front tuning pegs, drone strings and a pear-shaped body).