Type: Fretted > Box > Zither > Chordophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.6
Region: Scandinavia & Northern Europe.
Description: Although numerous different types of box zithers exist throughout Europe. The German Scheitholt and Swedish Hummel have been suggested as the likely candidate for the origins of the Langeleik.
History: In 1980 a langeleik was dated early as 1524 that was uncovered on a farm in Vibergsroa, Gjøvik, Norway. the discovery of this instrument predates any documented occurrences of the scheitholt, hummel or other similar instrument.
The older Langeleik types were tuned after Pythagorean fashion, based on pure fifths and octaves, with variable smaller intervals. Thus, the pitches could easily be moved between more sombre “low” intervals and the more brighter major intervals. The fixed Langeleik with a recognizable major scale is dated to after 1850.
After this change in tonation, many players had to change their melodies, or find new ones, as the older repertoire no longer fitted into the new system.
Varieties of Langeleik:
Construction: The Langeleik is a single stringed plucked zither having only 8 drone strings. Seven frets are installed producing a diatonic major scale per octave. The drone strings are tuned to a triad. the Langeleik is tuned approximately to A although C major key is often often used. This is to simplify the instrument for both writing and reading, by circumventing the use of accidentals.