Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hardanger Fiddle

At A. Cavallo Violins, LLC we have some very interesting instruments that walk through our door. Last Thursday was one of those occasions. A customer brought in a unique Hardanger fiddle. Hardanger fiddles (hardingfele in Norwegian) originated in Norway and are often considered the instrument of that nation. They became very popular in the mid 1700's and were most commonly used in folk music.

These instruments look very much like a violin. They have a similar body shape with four strings with a flatter tailpiece and fingerboard. Another aspect that makes this instrument unique are the four to six sympathetic strings that run underneath the fingerboard and create echoing overtones to the sound. The top strings on this particular instrument are tuned, highest to lowest, to F#, B, E, B and the bottom sympathetic strings are tuned, highest to lowest, to B, G#, F#, E. A good way to remember the pitches of the sympathetic strings is to think of Greig's "Morning". The pitches are all the same and this is probably how Greig came up with his opening. According to our customer, the tuning of Hardanger fiddles is not standardized and depends on the individual instrument.

Hardanger fiddles have become known for the extravagant mother-of-pearl inlay and pen or ink drawings on the instrument. The inlay is found on the body of the instrument, the fingerboard, and the tailpiece. Hardanger fiddles are also known for having ornately carved scrolls, often depicting a maiden or an animal such as a lion. The scroll definitely differs to that of a violin's because it needs to accommodate 8 pegs as opposed to the 4 that are in a violin scroll.

A final note is that according to our customer, each Hardanger fiddle has a female name. The name of his fiddle was "Bjornhild #88". We all found his fiddle and the history behind this unique instrument very interesting.

- Maddy

2 comments: said...

Gud info in this shop...hope can give some tips to start buying from online shop like this...TQ!!!

Juniper said...

Wow, I never knew that there's such a big difference between the violin and fiddle! Do you know the origin of the violin and fiddle? I wonder which one came first? Thanks!


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