Liljediket loosely translates to The Ditch Lilies. Elise
Peters, Judy Kjenstad and Mary Crimi began playing together as
members of the Twin Cities Nyckelharpalag about 5 years ago.
The love of traditional Swedish Uppland music and the desire
for the more expressive small group dynamics brought them together.
Elise seems to be playing lower and lower notes so she has ordered
a lower nyckelharpa to help her "get down." Mary is
happy playing the higher notes and is also our token Italian,
a necessity in all Swedish groups having something to do with
Santa Lucia. Judy ends up in the middle as the main "andra
stämman" player, happy to come out in one piece between
the high and the low notes.
The nyckelharpa is a traditional
Swedish instrument that has been played for more than 600 years.
The modern chromatic nyckelharpa has 16 strings: 3 melody strings,
one drone string, and 12 sympathetic resonance strings. It has
about 37 wooden keys each with a tangent that reaches up and
stops one of the melody strings to make a particular note. The
player uses a short bow with the right hand, and pushes on the
keys with the left. It has a 3 octave range and sounds something
like a fiddle, only with lots more resonance.
Nyckelharpa players can be found throughout the world
with about 150 active players in the United States. There are
about 10,000 nyckelharpa players in Sweden today, due to the
tireless efforts of Eric Sahlström. The instrument almost
died out during the first part of the 1900's, but by riding the
'green wave' of the 1960's and 70's it has made quite a come-back.