Saturday, August 17, 2013

Have You Heard the One About the Psalmodikon---or An Amateur Luthier Makes One

My friend, whom I shall refer to as The Luthier, tinkers with and creates many types of musical instruments. These instruments can include those with bellows and reeds, such as accordions and pump organs, or stringed instruments made of many types of woods or cobbled and cannibalized from various other stringed instruments.  It is quite a creative process this requires speedy searches by myself on the internet for types of wood The Lutheir seeks or specific mandolin or viola strings, whatever the heat of the moment is requiring.

As far as the psalmodikon goes, I found it fascinating and even the pronunciation of the word required some education on our part by The Hermit.  The Hermit is another character in this process who also provides internet searches and information on tech processes and of course, pronunciation coaching.  It was determined that the best pronunciation for this instrument of Scandinavian origin is "som-OH-dick-on."

It is a long wooden instrument with one string that generally has a low, almost guttural sound.  It is known in states such as Minnesota where many Scandinavians settled in the 19th and 20th centuries.  The one string is often played with a bow used on other stringed instruments and they will be played in quartets of the instrument to provide a variety of notes.

The Luthier did build his psalmodikon and it looked fine.  I would have liked to play it and it held a fascination for me.  Maybe because the Scandinavian culture has always been an interest;  probably ever since seeing the Viking ship model my oldest brother made when I was a young child and sneaking into  his bedroom too look at it, but never daring to touch the model.  And I must admit those Midwestern Scandinavian lumberjacks are some fine looking specimens, too.

The Luthier's creation did not remain whole very long.  It was disassembled and the spruce that it had been composed from became another musical project.  This is someone who has the specifications for the Stradivarius stringed instruments posted on the refrigerator in large font to refer to when needed.

Here is a link to some music by a psalmodikon quartet:

The psalomdikon quartet music is well-suited to sacred music, as you will see, if you viewed and listened to the music on this web page Nordic-American Psalmodkonforbundet.  This page has lots of information on the topic, if my article has piqued your interest.

The Luthier, of course, is on another project, and the Hermit and I just shrug our shoulders and know the Lutheir will be requesting new internet searches and information soon for the next and the next and the next...

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