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      As far as it is possible to judge from the existing information, kokle is an ancient musical tool of the Baltic origin. The first written data on it has been kept from XV century. From Baltic tribes kokle has been borrowed by the neighbouring Finno-Ugric (Livonians, Estonians, Finns and others) and Slavic (Russians) tribes.
    Kokle is strummed string instrument. Kokle is put on knees or on a table. By the right hand the vibration of strings is created, and by the left hand the unnecessary strings are muffled. Kokle tunes vary, basically they are diatonic. The bottom string has a role of a burdon - it sounds constantly.
    Kokle has a hollowed trapezoid case, covered with a thin plate - deck. The string pins are made from wood and are inserted into apertures in the wide end of the case in parallelly to the edge. At the narrower edge there is a metallic bar, on which the other ends of strings are reeled up. The strings from plants, brass and steel are applied. Traditionally, there were 6-9 strings, later more than ten strings have also been used.

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Kurland kokle

    In Kurland kokles without a wing have been used, with many ornaments and woodcarvings.

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Latgalian kokle

    Latgalian kokle has a wing, amplifying the sound and serving as a stand for hand. In contrast with Kurland kokles, Latgalian kokles are decorated less accurately, they are bigger and harder.
    In Augszeme and Vidzeme kokles of both kinds have been played, but in the same time there have been also intermediate types, for example, kokle with a beakly wing.
    At the end of XIX century the traditions of making kokles have come under the influence coming of the West European zithers. Thus have appeared so-called zithertype kokle - kokle with a large, zithertype case, metallic pins and many strings.

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Last time modified
03 September 2018

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