Thursday, January 13, 2011

Evidence for folk use of psalmodikon - notes from Latvia ** UPDATED 1x **

On Music in Latvia website at

Valdis Muktupāvels, "Musical Instruments in the Baltic Region: Historiography and Traditions" (excerpt below). Muktupāvels is a professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Latvia in Riga

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An instrument whose origins are strongly linked to musical practices in northern Protestant countries is the monochord (moldpill, laulupill, laulukannel, harmoonik EE, ģīga, ģingas, džindžas, manihorka, meldiņu spēle, akerdonis LV, manikarka LT). It is said to have been reinvented by the Swedish Lutheran pastor Johannes Dillner in 1829 based on the Greek monochord. Swedish authorities approved the monochord’s use as a simple and easy-to-make instrument in parishes that did not possess their own church organ. Since it aided the learning and accompaniment of sung psalms, it was named “psalmodicon.” The instrument was actively propagated from the 1830s to the 1860s, and it spread, in addition to Scandinavia and Finland, throughout Estonia, the Lutheran regions of Latvia and the western Lutheran region of Lithuania. The psalmodicon was above all a church musical instrument, but apart from that context, it also turned out to be good for use in secular musical activities such as choral singing, music education and even to produce dance music.

Valdis Muktupāvels has a 2-CD set called Muktukokles / Tradicionalas Kokles featuring a traditional Latvian psaltry. Blurb in CD Roots website:
The first solo record by the most eminent Latvian ethnomusicologist, composer and multi-instrumentalist is an ode to the kokle or box zither, a traditional Latvian folk instrument. It's a double CD. MUKTUKOKLES, the first CD, consists of original tracks by Valdis Muktupavels. The second CD - TRADICIONALAS KOKLES (Traditional Box Zithers) - contains authentic kokle melodies from the Kurzeme and Latgale districts of Latvia.
All commentaries in the folder are also available in English.
ADDED LATER (Sept. 6, 2012): Brief entry, English version, with pix on Ģīga (trans. Monochord in website on Latvian folk music: "The monochord has been created in Sweden in 1829 for accompaniment of spiritual singing. Probably through the Lutheran parochial schools, monochord has got to the Latvian peasants, and they have begun to play on it, to make it and to improve it (the same instrument, but with two strings has been developed)."

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