Hardanger Fiddle: The Norwegian Fiddle with Extra Strings and Resonance

The Hardanger fiddle, also known as the Hardanger violin or Hardingfele, is a traditional Norwegian stringed instrument. It is believed to have originated in the Hardanger region of western Norway in the 17th century. The Hardanger fiddle is an integral part of Norwegian folk music and is often seen as a symbol of Norwegian culture.

The Hardanger fiddle differs from the regular fiddle in its appearance, features, and playing techniques. Here are some key differences between the two instruments:

  • The Hardanger fiddle has four or five additional sympathetic strings that run under the fingerboard, creating a resonant sound.
  • The resonance of the Hardanger fiddle is amplified by a soundboard, making it louder than a regular fiddle.
  • The Hardanger fiddle is beautifully decorated with intricate carvings and inlaid mother-of-pearl designs.

The history of the Hardanger fiddle can be traced back to the 17th century, but its exact origin is unknown. It is believed to have evolved from the medieval fiddle. Over the years, the Hardanger fiddle has undergone several changes in its design and construction.

In Norwegian folk music, the Hardanger fiddle plays a significant role. It is often used to accompany traditional dance forms like the springar and gangar. In modern times, it has also been incorporated into contemporary music genres.

The construction of a Hardanger fiddle involves using high-quality wood, such as maple and spruce, for the body and adding intricate decorations. The process of making a Hardanger fiddle is a skilled craft that has been passed down through generations.

Playing the Hardanger fiddle requires a different technique compared to a regular fiddle. The sympathetic strings are played with the bow, in addition to the four main strings. The tuning of the strings also differs from a regular fiddle.

Some popular songs played on the Hardanger fiddle include traditional Norwegian folk songs such as “Fanitullen” and “Gammel Reinlender.” In recent years, contemporary artists have also incorporated the Hardanger fiddle into their music, such as in the song “Fiddle and the Drum” by singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.

In conclusion, the Hardanger fiddle is a unique and beautiful instrument that has played a significant role in Norwegian folk music for centuries. Its rich history, distinct features, and versatile use make it a truly special instrument in the world of music.

What Is a Hardanger Fiddle?

What Is a Hardanger Fiddle? - Hardanger Fiddle: The Norwegian Fiddle with Extra Strings and Resonance

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Anthony Johnson

What Is a Hardanger Fiddle?

A Hardanger fiddle is a traditional Norwegian instrument with a unique design and extra resonating strings. Similar to a violin, it also has four or five sympathetic strings underneath the main strings. These additional strings serve to produce a rich and resonant sound, giving the Hardanger fiddle its distinct character. This instrument is frequently utilized in traditional Norwegian folk music and holds deep cultural significance. Its intricate and ornate decorations, often featuring traditional Norwegian motifs and symbols, are also well-known.

How Is a Hardanger Fiddle Different from a Regular Fiddle?

A Hardanger fiddle differs from a regular fiddle in several ways:

  • Extra strings: A Hardanger fiddle has four or five sympathetic strings underneath the fingerboard, which resonate with the main strings.
  • Resonance: The added resonance creates a rich and haunting sound that is distinct from the regular fiddle.
  • Decorations: Hardanger fiddles are often intricately decorated with mother-of-pearl inlays, carving, and painted ornaments.
  • Playing Technique: Due to the extra strings, playing techniques like sympathetic bowing and drone playing are unique to the Hardanger fiddle.

What Are the Features of a Hardanger Fiddle?

The Hardanger fiddle, also known as the Hardingfele, is a unique instrument hailing from Norway. What makes this fiddle stand out from others is its distinctive features, which we will delve into in this section. From its extra strings to its beautiful decorations, the Hardanger fiddle is a true masterpiece of craftsmanship. Join us as we explore the features that make this fiddle so special and beloved by musicians and listeners alike.

1. Extra Strings

The Hardanger fiddle is a traditional Norwegian instrument that stands out with its additional strings. These extra strings are placed underneath the main strings and resonate sympathetically, producing a distinct sound. To fully delve into the topic of extra strings, follow these steps:

  1. Understand the purpose of extra strings in a Hardanger fiddle.
  2. Learn how to tune the extra strings to achieve the desired sound.
  3. Practice techniques that utilize the extra strings, such as sympathetic resonance and drone playing.
  4. Experiment with different playing styles and techniques to fully explore the possibilities of the extra strings.

By following these steps, musicians can unlock the full potential of the Hardanger fiddle’s extra strings and create beautiful, resonant melodies.

2. Resonance

Resonance is an essential element that distinguishes the Hardanger fiddle from a standard fiddle. This traditional Norwegian instrument produces a rich and vibrant sound due to its unique construction. The Hardanger fiddle features four or five sympathetic strings below the main strings, which vibrate in response to the bowing, creating a resonant and haunting effect. This resonance adds depth and complexity to the music played on the instrument, making it a popular choice for traditional Norwegian folk music. Musicians who appreciate the unique sound and resonance of the Hardanger fiddle often incorporate it into contemporary songs as well.

3. Decorations

Decorations are an integral part of the Hardanger fiddle’s charm and cultural significance. The intricate ornamentation adds visual appeal and reflects the rich Norwegian heritage. The process involves skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail. The decorations on a Hardanger fiddle typically include:

  • Carvings: Elaborate carvings adorn the scroll, tailpiece, and pegbox, showcasing traditional motifs inspired by nature and folklore.
  • Inlays: Delicate inlays made of mother-of-pearl, bone, or celluloid are meticulously placed on the body, fingerboard, and tailpiece.
  • Paintings: Hand-painted floral patterns and decorative elements add vibrant colors and enhance the overall aesthetic appeal.

Each decoration is carefully chosen and crafted, making every Hardanger fiddle a unique work of art.

What Is the History of the Hardanger Fiddle?

What Is the History of the Hardanger Fiddle? - Hardanger Fiddle: The Norwegian Fiddle with Extra Strings and Resonance

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The Hardanger fiddle, also known as the Hardanger violin, is a unique instrument with a rich history. Native to Norway, this fiddle is distinct from traditional violins with its extra strings and resonating understrings. In this section, we will delve into the origins of the Hardanger fiddle and how it evolved over time. From its humble beginnings to its modern-day use, we will uncover the fascinating history of this traditional Norwegian instrument.

1. Origin

The origin of the Hardanger fiddle can be traced back to the 17th century in Norway. Here are the steps involved in understanding its origin:

  1. Early Influences: The Hardanger fiddle has its roots in the medieval fiddle tradition of Europe.
  2. Distinct Norwegian Design: The fiddle’s design evolved over time to incorporate unique features like extra strings and resonance.
  3. Local Craftsmanship: Skilled Norwegian craftsmen played a crucial role in shaping the instrument and passing down their knowledge through generations.
  4. Cultural Significance: The Hardanger fiddle became an integral part of Norwegian folk music, played at weddings, dances, and other traditional celebrations.

The history of the Hardanger fiddle is rich and reflects the deep cultural heritage of Norway. It continues to be cherished as a symbol of Norwegian identity and plays a vital role in preserving and promoting traditional folk music.

2. Evolution

The evolution of the Hardanger fiddle can be traced through the following steps:

  1. Early Influences: The Hardanger fiddle’s origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages when the fiddle was introduced to Norway.
  2. Adaptations: Over time, the fiddle was modified to incorporate local preferences and playing styles, resulting in the distinctive design we see today.
  3. String Development: The addition of extra strings was a significant evolution in the Hardanger fiddle. These sympathetic resonating strings create a unique, haunting sound.
  4. Decorative Enhancements: As the instrument evolved, intricate and ornate decorations were added, reflecting the cultural and artistic traditions of Norway.

What Is the Role of the Hardanger Fiddle in Norwegian Folk Music?

What Is the Role of the Hardanger Fiddle in Norwegian Folk Music? - Hardanger Fiddle: The Norwegian Fiddle with Extra Strings and Resonance

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Jason King

The Hardanger fiddle, also known as the Hardingfele, is a unique instrument that plays a central role in Norwegian folk music. Its distinct sound and design have been a part of the country’s musical heritage for centuries. In this section, we will delve into the traditional use of the Hardanger fiddle in Norwegian folk music, exploring its history and cultural significance. We will also discuss its modern use and how it has evolved over time to fit into contemporary music genres.

1. Traditional Use

The traditional use of the Hardanger Fiddle in Norwegian folk music is an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage. Here are the steps involved in its traditional use:

  1. Learning: Traditional use begins with mastering the techniques and tunes specific to the Hardanger Fiddle.
  2. Repertoire: Players explore and perfect a repertoire of traditional Norwegian folk songs and tunes.
  3. Collaboration: The Hardanger Fiddle is often played in ensembles, collaborating with other traditional instruments such as the Hardanger fiddle bass, accordion, or traditional singers.
  4. Performances: Musicians showcase their skills at local gatherings, folk festivals, and cultural events, preserving and celebrating Norwegian musical traditions.
  5. Preservation: The Hardanger Fiddle is passed down through generations, ensuring the continuation of this traditional use for future generations.

2. Modern Use

Modern use of the Hardanger fiddle has expanded beyond traditional folk music in Norway. Here are some steps to explore its modern applications:

  1. Collaborations: Musicians are incorporating the Hardanger fiddle into various music genres, such as jazz, world music, and contemporary compositions.
  2. Experimentation: Artists are exploring new playing techniques and pushing the boundaries of sound possibilities with the instrument.
  3. Recording and Performance: Hardanger fiddle players are recording albums and performing live concerts, showcasing the instrument’s unique timbre and versatility.
  4. Education: Modern musicians are teaching and sharing the Hardanger fiddle’s techniques and music through workshops, online tutorials, and educational programs.
  5. Composition: Contemporary composers are writing new pieces specifically for the Hardanger fiddle, incorporating it into orchestral and chamber music compositions.

How Is a Hardanger Fiddle Made?

How Is a Hardanger Fiddle Made? - Hardanger Fiddle: The Norwegian Fiddle with Extra Strings and Resonance

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The Hardanger fiddle is a unique instrument known for its extra strings and resonant sound. But what goes into the making of this traditional Norwegian fiddle? In this section, we will take a closer look at the materials used in crafting a Hardanger fiddle, including the types of wood and strings. Then, we will delve into the construction process, examining the intricate and precise steps involved in creating this beautiful instrument.

1. Materials Used

The materials used to create a Hardanger fiddle are carefully chosen for their exceptional quality and acoustic properties. The following are the steps involved in crafting a Hardanger fiddle, with a focus on the materials used:

  1. Top plate: Typically made of spruce, renowned for its resonance and flexibility.
  2. Back plate: Crafted from maple, known for its strength and tonal characteristics.
  3. Ribs: Usually made of maple or willow, providing essential stability and support to the instrument.
  4. Neck: Constructed from durable maple, offering strength and longevity.
  5. Fingerboard: Typically made of ebony, known for its smooth texture and stable properties.
  6. Pegs, tailpiece, and chinrest: Often crafted from rosewood or boxwood, providing both stability and aesthetic appeal.
  7. Strings: Traditional Hardanger fiddle strings are made of steel, while the sympathetic strings are typically made of gut.

When selecting materials for a Hardanger fiddle, it is crucial to prioritize both acoustic properties and craftsmanship. By using high-quality materials, a well-balanced and resonant instrument can be achieved.

2. Construction Process

The process of constructing a Hardanger fiddle involves several steps, such as:

  1. Selecting the materials: High-quality wood, such as spruce or maple, is carefully chosen for the body and neck.
  2. Carving the body: The top and back plates are intricately carved to provide the desired resonance and tone.
  3. Creating the soundholes: The top plate is carefully carved with decorative soundholes that enhance the instrument’s acoustic properties.
  4. Attaching the neck: The neck is securely attached to the body to ensure stability.
  5. Installing the extra strings: The sympathetic and drone strings, which run parallel to the regular strings, are added and pass through the tailpiece.
  6. Applying varnish: Multiple layers of varnish are applied to protect the wood and enhance the instrument’s appearance.

Pro-tip: It is recommended to seek guidance from experienced luthiers or instrument makers to ensure proper construction and optimal sound quality for your Hardanger fiddle.

How to Play the Hardanger Fiddle?

Playing the Hardanger fiddle is a unique and rewarding experience, but it requires a specific set of skills and knowledge. In this section, we will delve into the techniques used to play this traditional Norwegian instrument, including bowing and fingering techniques. Additionally, we will discuss the unique tuning of the Hardanger fiddle, which involves extra sympathetic strings that create a beautiful resonance. By the end, you will have a better understanding of the intricacies of playing this fascinating instrument.

1. Techniques

Mastering the techniques of playing the Hardanger fiddle requires dedication and practice. Here are some steps to get started:

  1. Hold the instrument correctly, with the body resting against your chest and the neck supported by your left hand.
  2. Use a bow to create sound by dragging it across the strings.
  3. Learn the basic techniques, such as bowing, plucking, and double-stopping.
  4. Practice fingering techniques to produce different pitches and create melodies.
  5. Experiment with different rhythms and ornaments to add embellishments to your playing.

Remember, it takes time to develop proficiency, so be patient and enjoy the process of learning this unique instrument.

2. Tuning

Tuning a Hardanger fiddle requires specific steps to ensure the correct pitch and resonance of the instrument.

  1. Begin by tuning the four main strings to standard violin tuning: G, D, A, and E.
  2. Next, tune the sympathetic strings, which run underneath the fingerboard. These strings are tuned to resonate with the played strings, creating a unique sound. Tune them to a harmonic of the corresponding main string.
  3. Adjust the tension of the sympathetic strings using the fine tuners or pegs until they vibrate in harmony with the main strings.
  4. Finally, check the overall pitch and make fine adjustments as needed to achieve the desired tuning.

A professional Hardanger fiddle player once faced challenges while tuning their instrument before a performance. Despite the difficulties, they managed to tune each string perfectly, resulting in a mesmerizing performance that captivated the audience.

What Are the Popular Songs Played on the Hardanger Fiddle?

What Are the Popular Songs Played on the Hardanger Fiddle? - Hardanger Fiddle: The Norwegian Fiddle with Extra Strings and Resonance

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The Hardanger fiddle, a unique Norwegian instrument, is known for its extra strings and rich resonance. But what songs are commonly played on this fiddle? In this section, we will explore the popular song choices for Hardanger fiddle players. From traditional Norwegian folk songs to contemporary tunes, we will discover the diverse range of music that can be played on this captivating instrument. So, let’s dive into the world of Hardanger fiddle music and discover the beloved songs that make it so special.

1. Traditional Norwegian Folk Songs

Traditional Norwegian folk songs hold a significant role in the history and culture of the Hardanger fiddle. To delve deeper into this aspect, here are a few steps to guide you in exploring traditional Norwegian folk songs on the Hardanger fiddle:

  1. Start by familiarizing yourself with the different types of traditional Norwegian folk songs, such as slåtter (tunes) and halling (a lively dance).
  2. Listen to recordings of renowned Hardanger fiddle players like Ole Bull and Sigbjørn Bernhoft Osa to understand the traditional playing style.
  3. Learn the specific bowing techniques used in traditional Norwegian folk music, such as the “slått bowing” technique, which emphasizes the rhythm and ornamentation.
  4. Practice playing simple traditional Norwegian folk songs initially, gradually progressing to more complex tunes.
  5. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Norway by studying the lyrics and stories behind these traditional folk songs.

To enhance your experience, consider attending traditional Norwegian folk music festivals or joining local folk music communities for guidance and inspiration.

2. Contemporary Songs

Contemporary songs featuring the Hardanger fiddle showcase the instrument’s adaptability to modern music genres. Musicians have embraced the unique sound of the fiddle and incorporated it into various styles such as folk rock, world music, and experimental genres. Artists like Erlend Viken and Annbjørg Lien have released albums with contemporary compositions that highlight the versatility of the Hardanger fiddle. These songs blend traditional Norwegian folk elements with new arrangements and innovative techniques, providing a fresh and exciting perspective on the instrument’s capabilities. The Hardanger fiddle’s ability to bridge the gap between tradition and modernity makes it a captivating instrument in the contemporary music scene.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Hardanger fiddle?

A Hardanger fiddle is a traditional stringed instrument from Norway, also known as the national instrument of Norway. It is similar to a violin but has eight or nine strings instead of four and is often richly decorated with carved animal or woman’s heads, mother of pearl inlay, and black ink decorations.

How is a Hardanger fiddle different from a violin?

A Hardanger fiddle has eight or nine strings, compared to the four strings of a violin. Its F-holes have a more “sunken” appearance and straighter edges, and it has a special bridge and fingerboard to accommodate the extra strings. It is also more decorated with carvings and inlays compared to a violin.

What is the role of the sympathetic strings on a Hardanger fiddle?

Four of the strings on a Hardanger fiddle are played like a violin, while the rest are sympathetic strings that resonate under the influence of the other four. These strings add depth and richness to the sound of the instrument.

How has the design of the Hardanger fiddle changed over time?

The earliest known example of a Hardanger fiddle dates back to 1651 and had a rounder, narrower body. Over time, the instrument’s body began to have a more violin-like shape. Modern designs also include improvements such as an improved tuning mechanism and a dark bass string for added tonal range.

What is the Norwegian Hardangerfiddle Fund?

The Norwegian Hardangerfiddle Fund is a committee of renowned musicians that grants Norwegian fiddle players ten-stringed Hardangerfiddles for their contributions to promoting and bringing the instrument into new arenas. These fiddles are built by master violin maker Helge M. Bergnord and are highly decorated, often named after Norwegian forest spirits.

How many tunings are there for a Hardanger fiddle?

There are over 30 different tunings for a Hardanger fiddle, making it a versatile instrument for a wide range of music genres. It is commonly used in traditional Norwegian music, but has also been picked up by modern musicians for genres such as bluegrass and American old time music.