Different types of the musical instrument Nyckelharpa

Different kinds of the music instrument nyckelharpa. Photo:Esbjörn Hogmark.
A silverbasharpa (Silver-drone harpa), two Chromatic nyckelharpas with three rows of keys (treradig kromatisk nyckelharpa) - one of them
suited for left handed players. They are made by Esbjörn Hogmarks hands. The old type one to the right is made by Hasse Gille.


Nyckelharpas played by angels in Swedish churches.
Photo Gunnar Fredelius

Here is another example...

In the old times there was only one row of keys, but two or more rows of pegs.
The basic types of the nyckelharpa were mixtur nyckelharpas or as above -
contra drone mixture nyckelharpa. In Swedish kontrabasmixturharpa.

If you remove the row in the middle you will get a contra drone nyckelharpa - or kontrbasharpa.
If you remove the pegs from the contra-drone string you will get a mixtur nyckelharpa - or mixturharpa in Swedish
Later, around 1810-1830, some of the pegs on the second string were placed on a second row of keys, and the silverbasharpa was born.

Kontrabasharpa / contra-drone nyckelharpa

If you keep all three rows of pegs from the kontrabasmixturharpa, but take away some of them in the middle row, like on the mixturharpas which later developed into silverbasharpas. And then give some of the remaining pegs in in that middle row, a row of keys of there own, you get a Österbyharpa, also called kontrabasharpa med dubbellek / the Contra-drone harpa with double key-mechanism


A four-rowed and two three-rowed chromatic nyckelharpa
and one Silver-drone harpa (silverbasharpa)
They were built by Eric Olsson, Eric Sahlström,
Claes Fredelius (inspired by Spel Oskar Larsson) and Christer Ekström

A Chromatic nyckelharpa with three rows of keys, made by Esbjörn Hogmark
who also took the picture

During the 1940's Viktor Svensk produced ten nyckelharpas with eight melody strings.
Or correctly speaking four pairs of melody strings. GF


This looks like an old silverbasharpa, but it is an early
three-rowed chromatic nyckelharpa.GF


A Special "lek" (pegbox)
made by Karl Arne Gille. Photo GF

A Chromatic nyckelharpa with four rows of keys by Björn Kallstenius Photo GF

The same type. Made by Eric Olsson who was the first to build
this kind of nyckelharpa - "Olssonharpa" GF

The same harpa. GF


At the Swedish part of Nyckelharpans Forum you will find lots and lots of photos of the instrument nyckelharpa, the people who play it and the people who build it.

Web master Gunnar Fredelius,

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