Sweden; The country that gave us great meatballs, IKEA, and some great pop music also has a lot to offer in terms of its popular instruments. Swedish music has evolved over time, from a deep history of folk music that was based on instruments made from quite simple things, like whistles made from birch trees, to complex stringed instruments like Nickelharpa.
So, in this post, we will explore 13 Swedish musical instruments that not only reflect the Scandinavian-Swedish heritage but also how the country’s music has evolved over time. Let’s get started.
It is only fitting that we begin our list with the Swedish national instrument; the nickelharpa.
The Nyckelharpa – which in Swedish translates to “Key Fiddle” – is the perfect Swedish instrument, and arguably one of the most recognizable, due to its unique and intricate shape.
This machine dates back to 1350, and the oldest example of a machine is a small carving on one of the doors of Kalong Church on the island of Gotland. The inscription on the gates depicts players from Nikelharpa.
When it comes to the functions of the Nyckelharpa, it is essentially a kind of cross between the violin and the ballad, using the bow to play the strings but using the keys to alter the pitch of the notes.
The distinguishing feature that definitely makes it so iconic is the 37 neck-length connected keys that the player presses with their left hand.
the Psalms or salmodicone It is another type of stringed instrument that consists of a long box with a string attached at each end.
Then the musician strikes the string or uses a bow like a violin to vibrate and make the sound.
To change the instrument’s tone, the player can then press down on one of 25 steps along the square, each of which is a half-step difference in pitch.
It is believed that his invention was for the church because most congregations could not afford an expensive organ.
Nor did they think that the violin – which was used for dancing – was unsuitable for use in religious places.
So, create what’s simple, affordable, and convenient Psalmodikon for use in the accompaniment of the lyrical group.
Next, we have Moraharpa which looks very similar to Nyckelharpa. In fact, you can think of it as Nekelharpa’s grandfather because he was one of his early ancestors.
Constructed with a lot of the same features, a Moraharpa is very similar to a file Nyckelharpa and has arched strings and keys along the neck that are pressed to change pitch. However, they have a wider body.
Although it is not known exactly when it was first invented, it is one of the oldest Moraharpas dates back to 1526 (but it is thought that it may not be as old as that) and was found in Mora, Sweden – where it got its name.
4. Play pipe
Changing the gears of the stringed instruments we’ve looked at so far, the pipe play It is a traditional flute with deep roots in the nomadic cultures of Sweden.
It was used to play music but also as a herding tool!
To play one, the musician blows air into a narrow opening at the end of the flute – just like a modern recorder.
It also has modal tuning and eight finger holes that it uses to adjust the tone.
the Hargid Spiba It is another type of flute similar to the Spilåpipa, but produces a softer tone when played. Unlike the Spilåpipa, it only has six finger holes.
The tool is credited with keeping this instrument at its current largest manufacturer, Gunnar Stenmark learned the traditional manufacturing process from another man by the name of Oskar Olofsson.
Navirlor or ‘birch trumpetIt is an ancient instrument, the oldest example of which was found in Sweden and dates back to the 10th century.
It is also found throughout Northern Europe in countries such as Norway, Finland, Denmark, Latvia and many other countries.
The Näverlur is a type of natural horn, which means it doesn’t have finger holes or valves to press on to change the pitch. This means that it is limited to playing the notes of the harmonic series.
Näverlur’s uses and history can be a bit obscure given its age, but it is believed that it was used to scare off predators, start festivities, and ward off supernatural enemies.
7. Swedish bagpipe
Although they are often thought of as traditional Scottish instruments, Sweden has its fair share of bagpipes as well, known as pipe bag!
the Swedish bagpipe Very similar to its siblings in other European countries. However, it has a smaller case, so it has a much softer sound and doesn’t need a lot of air to play.
Many paintings of old churches in Sweden show the widespread use of bagpipes. However, in the twentieth century, its popularity faded for some time after the Middle Ages, and by the twentieth century it became almost extinct.
However, there was a revival of Swedish bagpipes that began in the late 1930s, and now, there are a number of popular bands using them.
8. Fist patch
the Navirlab, which translates directly tobark patch, is a very old and simple Swedish folk instrument.
One might not even think of a musical instrument at all, because it is basically just a piece of birch tree bark.
The player places the board between his lower lip and teeth and then blows air over it, producing a sound similar to a clarinet or a silent trumpet.
However, it has a very short life because the piece gets wetter with saliva, and its sound starts to fade and needs replacing.
9. The Swedish Oud
Next, we have a file Swedish Oud which was developed in the late eighteenth century. It is believed to have come from the Cittern and the English Guitar and one of its main proponents is instrument maker Matthias Petter Kraft.
Swedish ouds usually contain between 12 and 15 strings made from the gut. What is unique is that some of these tendons are located above the fretboard and some are open and do not go over the neck.
10. Swedish cow horn
the cow horn It is another primitive Swedish tool, made from cattle horns. Naturally, this machine has its roots in the culture of shepherds in Sweden and was often used to communicate and scare off predators.
Originally it had no holes or horn, however, modern adopters of the cow horn came to add these features later, raising the instrument’s volume allowing it to play on multiple tones.
11. Wooden violin
the wooden violin or ‘violin clogIt’s a traditional Swedish violin that got its name because it’s made from a wooden clog – yes, really!
It was designed using the shoe as the body of the instrument and then attached to the neck of the violin and the sound wave.
It was first made during the 18th century as a low-cost way for people to obtain their violin. They were using everything they had around it and so the clog shoe was adopted.
12. Willow Flute
the willow fluteSometimes I called pale flute or Shepherds flute, is another type of flute of mostly northern origin. As its name suggests, it was traditionally made of willow although nowadays you will find it made of plastic as well.
It is seen as another variation, although much simpler than the fipple flute, it features a single mouth piece and no finger holes.
This means that it is a hyper-flute where there are no pitch holes for musicians to change the pitch.
They have to resort to changing the pitch by changing the amount of force they blow into the flute and as a result, only the notes can be played from the harmonic series.
13. Sammy Drum
Finally, we have the old Sammy drum, named after the aborigines of northern Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
It is a kind of frame cylinder made of a wooden frame and reindeer hide extended over the top. Then the musician hits it with a hammer-drum made of a trumpet.
These barrels have been used before Shamans have many different purposes such as communicating with fortune-telling, spirits, healing, and seeking knowledge.
Unfortunately, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was The Semitic people were preached by Christianity, and many drums were confiscated and destroyed, with the result that Semitic culture in general was suppressed.
What remains of the original drums are now in museums with the largest collection in the Nordic Museum in Stockholm.
However, many indigenous Sami musicians today make and play the Sami drum as a celebration of Sami identity and culture.
Summarize our list of Swedish machines
As we have seen, Sweden has a variety of folk instruments, from the willow flute and Swedish bagpipes to the famous Nyckelharpa.
It is a country that has experienced a great musical development but has not forgotten and celebrates the roots of popular culture to this day.
Did we miss any Swedish instruments on this list? Let’s know!