From Vikings Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This instrument is fascinating. A single find exists from Novgorod in Russia and dated to around 1050 which, given the time and geography, puts it on my radar as an authentic instrument. I tentatively suggest it as an example of early music technology developing. Sort of triangular in shape, long and thin, it had five strings attached to a horizontal bridge mounted onto vertical discs. The sound board is far longer than on lyres, with a small playing window at the top near the tuning pegs. This extended soundboard suggests that it could be the ‘lovechild’ of a lyre and a Finnish Kantele!

We refer to this instrument as the ‘Slovisha Gusli’. The word ‘Slovisha’ was engraved onto it, a Rus word meaning ‘Nightingale’. It can be played using block and strum in the same way as a lyre, but it can also be played flat on a hard surface or across the lap whereby the player plucks and drones with the hands and fingers almost in a keyboard position!

Kate Fletcher demonstrates here:

Source: James Hulme