Wild Acoustic features a large collection of traditional and historical musical instruments. We try to find the most authentic instruments possible. Dulcimers and zithers are one such group of instruments, and we have found some very interesting instruments.
Many of you are familiar with our mountain dulcimers and hammered dulcimers, but we also have an interesting group of more unusual instruments such as the scheitholt, langspil, langeleik, and hummel.
The scheitholt is a traditional German stringed instrument and an ancestor of the modern zither, and is considered a drone zither. The Scheitholt is believed to have come from an ancient Greek instrument called a monochord, but has been called a scheitholt since the 16th century. The scheitholt was brought to Pennsylvania by German settlers and most probably contributed to the development of the Appalachian dulcimer.
The hummel, or humle, is an old Swedish stringed instrument similar to a older zithers and related to the Norwegian langeleik. The name is thought to come from the German word hummel, meaning "bumblebee", referring to the droning sound created by the accompaniment strings. The hummel dates back to the Middle Ages. The instrument was common in the Netherlands, Northern Germany and Denmark during the 18th century. The earliest evidence of the instrument in Swedish folk culture is from the 17th century.
The German scheitholt and the Swedish Hummel have been suggested as the predecessor of the langeleik. A langeleik, however, dated as early as 1524 was found on a farm in Vibergsroa, Gjøvik, Norway. This instrument predates any documented evidence of the scheitholt, the hummel or any other similar instrument. The older Langeleik types were tuned to fifths and octaves, with varying other pitches.
The langspil is a traditional Icelandic drone zither. It only has 1 melody string with 2 drone strings, and it is easy to learn to play. The oldest written sources describing the langspil date from the 18th century. In those times langspils are described as a long thin box, wider at the bottom end and with one to six strings. In the early 19th century a version with a curved soundbox emerged which has improved sound qualities.
As bluegrass and folk sounds found their way into mainstream popular music, they have generated tremendous interest in acoustic musical instruments. The growing demand is being fostered by music with a bluegrass and folk sound...