About the Hardangerfiddle
The Norwegian National Instrument
A Hardanger fiddle ("Hardingfele") is a traditional stringed instrument from Norway, very similar to the violin, though with eight or nine strings. Four of the strings are played like a violin, while the rest are resonance strings or sympathetic strings, influenced by the other four strings.
The instrument is often richly decorated, with a carved animals head (usually a dragon) or a carved woman's head as part of the scroll at the top of the pegbox, extensive mother of pearl inlay on the tailpiece and fingerboard, and black ink decorations called 'rosing' on the body of the instrument. Sometimes pieces of bone are used to decorate the pegs and the edges of the instrument. The earliest known hardingfiddle is from 1651, made by a man from Hardanger so therefore the name "Hardanger fele" or "Hardingfele".
Given to Martine by Norsk Hardingfelefond (Norwegian Hardangerfiddle Fund)
In 2013 Martine was granted her own ten-stringed hardanger fiddel by Norsk Hardingfelefond (The Norwegian Hardangerfiddle Fund) for her work to make the norwegian national instrument more available and for bringing it into new arenas. The fund committee is Håkon Høgemo, Øyvind Gimse, Even Traaen and Helge Bergnord. More about the fund here.
This beautiful instrument has an improved tuning mechanism that makes it easier to keep the fiddle in tune in challenging climates. It´s buidt by the violin maker master Helge M. Bergnord and designed with a bright womans head and a dark body. Her name is "Huldrefela" wich means the fiddle of the norwegian forest spirit Huldra. A dark bass string provides an extra dimension to the instrument's tone register.
"Martine is considered as one of Norway's most accomplished fiddle players and has toured the world with her own composed music. We hope she will be satisfied with this new instrument and wish her good luck " -Helge M. Bergnord, violin master maker and founder of Norwegian Hardingfele Fund
Today there are just a few professional Hardangerfiddle makers left in Norway and therefor even more important to take care of this cultural heritage. One of the very best fiddle maker masters is Helge M. Bergnord. He is located in a beautiful workshop in Vågåmo in Gudbrandsdalen, but you can also visit his website here
An endless excitement of overtones and harmonies!
There are so many different ways to tune the Hardangerfiddle. Underneath you can see a selection of the most common. On the ordinary Hardangerfiddle Martine usually tune the upper strings like this: A-D-A-E and on the Huldrefela: F-B-F-B-F
In Norway, more than 30 different tunings are registered, but most hardangerfiddle-tunes are played in A-D-A-E. The hardangerfiddle can also be played with "low bass" like G-D-A-E (normal violin tuning). The sympathetic strings are tuned to vibrate according to the main tuning. For example, when the main strings are tuned in A-D-A-E, the understrings are tuned B-D-E-F♯(and A, if the hardangerfiddle has five sympathetic strings). Other common tunings for the sympathetic strings is: D–E–F♯-A and D–E–G–A.
In addition to the ones already mentioned, this tunings are common:
"Trollstemt" (A-E-A-C♯). Trollstemt (troll tuning) is used for the famous traditional tune called "Fanitullen", also called the devil's tunes
Here is an old recording of Martine from 1996 playing one of Norways most famous hardangerfiddle pieces "Fanitulen" (the devil´s tune). You can read about the story behind "Fanitullen" here.