Jag och nyckelharpan
I was around 17 years of age when I first saw a nyckelharpa in the flesh. Immediately I was filled by an desire to own such a beautiful, fascinating object, and, followingly, I ordered one from the builder and player Hans Gille in Österbybruk.
I had to wait for one year. I got it, at last, the same day as I did my last exam after my first year as a student at Upsala University. I had studied chemistry for one year, and was heading on towards biology. I kept on studying biology, until I found myself halfway through postgraduate studies in zoological physiologi. During all these years of university studies, nyckelharpa was a part of my life, demanding more and more space. After a couple of years it was joined by a fiddle, and after three years of postgraduate studies, these comrades of mine took over my life completely. I became a musician, and have been so since.
If you live with the nyckelharpa as I do, you discover that it can be used for much more than you think at the outset. Of course you play traditional nyckelharpa music, tunes after and by both unknown and known fantastic players, like Byss-Calle (1783 -- 1847) and Eric Sahlström (1912 -- 1986). By playing music made for the instrument you learn about it, and how to exploit it. However, nyckelharpa is excellent for using in all sorts of music, like Eric Sahlström himself also did. That it works in popular music is shown by, among others, the group Nordman with player and music creator Mats Wester. That classical music works very well on nyckelharpa was something that players and teachers Anders Liljefors and Mats Kuoppala made use of in the 1960's and 70's. There are no limits to what you can do with this instrument.
I, as others with me, have, during my odysseys in the Promised land of nyckelharpa, disovered that it would be interesting with nyckelharpas with different ranges than the usual one. During the last 15 years or so larger instruments with a lower range has been built, usually because some player or other has asked a builder to experiment. For my part I bought an "oktavharpa", i.e. a nyckelharpa tuned exactly one octave below the usual one. I also asked the builder to experiment with something in between the usual nyckelharpa and the octave nyckelharpa.The result is an instrument that I call "altharpa" (alto nyckelharpa). The range is on fourth below the usual nyckelharpa. Both of these larger instruments were built by Olle Plahn in Falun.
The photo shows my nyckelharpa famly: oktavharpa (left), altharpa (middle) and general nyckelharpa (right).
Read more about me at www.DitteAndersson.se