Nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle)

A Nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle) is a string instrument with a relatively long slender body. When it is played it is held just below the chest, a bit like a guitar.

Location: Uppland and all of Sweden

Spel på nyckelharpa.

The origin of the Nyckelharpa is disputed, but it has been produced and played in Sweden in an unbroken tradition since at least the 1600s. Instrument makers have experimented with different models of the instrument throughout the years, and some variants have survived until today. The actual making of the instrument requires good craft knowledge as well as knowledge of the production of acoustic instruments.

The transfer of knowledge on the production and playing has traditionally been "from master to apprentice", which is still the most common form of transfer. Interest in the Nyckelharpa increased along with the Swedish folk music boom of the 1970s, and it is possible to take lessons all over the country; short evening courses are the most common, but longer courses are also arranged. The School of Music has multiannual courses in Nyckelharpa, and in 1997 the Eric Sahlström Institute was created, with courses in playing and constructing the Nyckelharpa. More documentation is needed to secure the production of the Nyckelharpa instrument, not least documentation of the skills of older instrument makers.