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date: 14 November 2019

Langspil (Swed.långspel)locked

  • Amanda M. Burt



Bowed box zither of Iceland, related to the Norwegian langeleik. It has one to six metal strings (usually one melody string and two drones) and a fretted fingerboard giving a diatonic scale; some instruments have additional semitones for the melody string and occasional or constant drones. Frets are of brass or wood; some are fixed and others movable. The soundboard, which may be ornamented, has soundholes of differing shape, often patterns of small piercings. The instrument can be about 75 to 105 cm long. It is placed on a table (or on a board held on the lap) with the broad, thicker end of the soundbox to the player’s right and the tuning pegs to the left. The fretboard is on the side closer to the player. Early versions tend to have straight sides, later ones often curve outwards on the farther side toward the end to enlarge the soundbox. The horsehair bow is held with the right hand; sometimes the strings are plucked or even struck. Although the instrument became obsolescent in the latter part of the 19th century, it was reintroduced into music education by teachers and folklorists in the mid-20th century and has been used orchestrally by at least one composer. (D.G. Woods, ‘Íslenska langspilið’, ...

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