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Estonian Folk Instruments.doc

Estonian Folk Instruments

Fife. A fife is a pipe-shaped wind instrument. It is made of bark (willow or aspen), a tree branch or sheet metal. In its upper end, there is whistling device. Simpler fifes have no finger-holes. More advanced fifes have finger-holes and allow playing a melody.

Bagpipe.   Bagpipe has been one of favorite musical instruments in Estonia for centuries. It is made of a wind bag and pipes. The bag was traditionally made of the stomach of a seal or another larger animal. Import parts of the instrument are long base pipes or drones which provide the continuous low-pitched accompaniment. The tune is played on a shorter pipe (chanter) which has 5-7 finger-holes. Bagpipe spread to Estonia in the 13th century from Germany or Sweden.

Teppo concertina. The most famous concertina maker in Estonia is August Teppo who lived in 1875-1959. His instruments differ from other concertinas in timbre, appearance and method of tuning. Therefore Teppo concertina or Estonian concertina can be viewed as special type of concertina. August Teppo made instruments with three and four rows of buttons. His instruments are most valued for their sound and timbre.

Small kannel.    Kannel is a string instrument. The distinguishing feature of a small kannel is a trough-shaped sound box which is carved out of a single piece of wood and covered with a thin soundboard. There are two subtypes. Estonian small kannel has 6-12 strings which are arranged in a fan shape. Seto kannel has 6 or 7 strings, with a board-shaped elongation at its wider end.

Jaw harp. Jaw harps have been known in Estonia since the beginning of the 13th century. The instrument consists of a key-shaped iron frame and a reed (or tongue) attached to it. The instrument is placed against teeth, with the player's mouth forming the sound box. Sound is produced by plucking the reed with the right hand index finger towards oneself. Because of its mystical sound and eye-catching playing techniques, jaw harp is one of the best-known ancient folk instruments.