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Theremin And Electric Kantele

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Uploaded on Dec 9, 2009

I call this composition LEMMINKAINEN'S DREAM. Lemminkainen was one of the heroes in the Finnish national epic known as the KALEVALA. The writer of The Lord Of The Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien, based much of his vision of Middle Earth on ideas and images from the Kalevala which he had read as a teenager. He liked it so much he actually learned Finnish in order to read the book in its native language, and later went on to invent a language entirely of his own (the language of the Elves called "Quenya") which was based on Finnish.

The kantele (pronounced "kan - teh - leh") is the national instrument of Finland and belongs to the family of instruments known as "psalteries". The one you see in this video is a 38 string, steel strung, electric kantele. It's magnetic pickups (which are eight inches long) were custom made by Jason Lollar for Bart Hopkin of Experimental Musical Instruments. If you are curious about them, visit Bart's website, windworld.com.

The kantele is an extremely resonant instrument and larger "concert" models are provided with a damper consisting of a thick felt strip similar to what you might find on a piano, in order to mute the strings. I left the damper box open in the middle part of this video so you could see what it looks like. These electroacoustic kanteles bear little resemblance to the traditional 5 and 10 string folk instruments but they open up all sorts of doors for modern musicians. The high tension and steel strings on the instrument in this video allow me, if I wish, to play the kantele with a bar which I hold in my left hand. Players of steel guitars and of certain traditional instruments of India also play in this way. The effect of it is a very pure and strangely lonely "northern" sound which I found appropriate for the piece.

The theremin I used is a Moog Etherwave Pro.

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