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Kanklės

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Title: Kanklės  
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Subject: Gusli, Plucked string instrument, Kokle, Baltic psaltery, Kantele
Collection: Box Zithers, Lithuanian Musical Instruments
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Kanklės

Kanklės of the Žemaitija regional style

The kanklės (pronounced ) is a Lithuanian plucked string musical instrument (chordophone), of the zither family. The instrument is similar in construction and origin to the Latvian kokle, Russian gusli, Estonian kannel and Finnish kantele.

Contents

  • Construction 1
  • Playing 2
  • Regional types 3
    • Northeastern Aukštaitija 3.1
    • Žemaitija and Northwestern Aukštaitija 3.2
    • Suvalkija and Northwestern Žemaitija 3.3
  • External links 4
  • References 5

Construction

The body of the kanklės is constructed of one trapezoidal piece of hardwood, hollowed out to make a cavity. A thin sheet of softwood (usually spruce) is used to make a sounding board, which covers the body. Sound holes, which traditionally take the shape of a stylized flower or star, are cut into the sounding board, allowing sound to project outward.

At the narrowest side of the body a metal bar is attached, to which the strings made of wire or gut are anchored. The opposite ends of the strings are attached to a row of tuning pegs inserted into holes at the opposite side of the body.

Playing

It is usually rested on the player's lap and played with the fingers or a pick made of bone or quill.

Regional types

Large kanklės used by a Lithuanian traditional dance troupe along with birbynė

Within Lithuania, there are three basic regional types of kanklės, although there are variations within each type and some overlap of areas. Each type has its own playing technique.

Northeastern Aukštaitija

The simplest and most ancient form, most frequently having five strings, and having a rounded bottom like a boat.

Žemaitija and Northwestern Aukštaitija

Somewhat larger than those of Northeastern Aukštaitija, usually having between eight and twelve strings. They have a flat bottom, and in some cases, the shortest end is carved with the stylized figure of a bird's or fish's tail.

Suvalkija and Northwestern Žemaitija

Usually the most highly decorated type, and kanklės used in concert performance are most often based on this variety. The most prominent identifying feature is the addition of a carved spiral figure to the point of the instrument's body and sometimes, the rounding of the narrow end of the body. Typically these instruments have between nine and thirteen strings.

External links

  • Video of performance by Regimantas Zitkauskas at TVfolk.net
  • Lithuanian stringed instrument kankles
  • Anthology of Lithuanian Ethnoculture
  • Lithuanian Folk Instruments

References

  • Ancient Lithuanian Kanklės, Romualdas Apanavičius, Institute of Ethnomusic, Vilnius, Lithuania
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