Name: Hardingfele.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Viols > Bowed.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: Norway.
Region: Scandinavia & Northern Europe.

Description: A hardingfele [in Norwegian] or hardanger fiddle is a stringed instrument resembling a violin although having eight or nine strings in total.  The hardingfele is used originally to play traditional Norwegian music.

The earliest known example of the Hardingfele is from 1651 made by Ole Jonsen Jaastad in Hardanger, Norway. Originally the instrument had a rounder, narrower body Around the year 1850. The modern violin-like profile of this musical instrument is much the norm.

Playing Techniques: The technique of bowing a Hardingfele also differs from that used with a violin. It’s a smoother, bouncier style of bowing, with a lighter touch. The player usually bows on two of the upper strings at a time, and sometimes three. This is made easy by the relative flatness of the bridge, unlike the more curved bridge on a violin. The objective is to create a continuous sound of two [or more due to the sympathetic under-strings] pitches.

Hardingfele Tunings
Name Tuning
Standard G D A E
Troll Tuning A E A C#
Gorrolaus F D A E
Sympathetic Strings B D E F♯A

Usage: The Hardingfele is used mainly in the southwest part of Norway, whereas the ordinary violin called flatfele – ‘flat fiddle’ or vanlig fele – ‘common fiddle’ is found elsewhere. The Hardingfele is used for dancing, accompanied by rhythmic loud foot stomping. It was also traditional for the fiddler to lead the bridal procession to the church.

Construction: The instrument often is highly ornate, with a carved animal usually a dragon or the Lion of Norway or a carved woman’s head as part of the scroll at the top of the pegbox. Extensive mother of pearl inlay on the tailpiece and fingerboard. Black ink decorations called ‘rosing’ is also featured. Sometimes pieces of bone are used to decorate the pegs and the edges of the instrument.

Four of the playing strings are strung as seen on the violin run over the bridge. Where as the sympathetic strings run through drilled holes in middle of the bridge. The sympathetic strings run parallel to the playing strings.

Citations: Bibliography