Spotted: Keyed fiddle player at Menlo Park farmer’s market

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on August 1, 2010

We didn’t catch the musician’s name, he was so intent on playing his nycelharpa (prounounced neekil-harpa), a Swedish instrument that dates back to the 1400. It was the first time we’ve heard this instrument, which emanates a  “distinctive ethereal and otherwordly sound,” at the Menlo Park weekly farmer’s market. The nycelharpa is bowed like a violin with three rows of keys run along the neck. Tapping a key moves a wooden dowel which in turn hits a string. While there are 16 strings, only four are played, producing its distinctive music.

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