Name: Kokle

Type: Fretless Zither > Cordophones.

Region: Latvia > Baltic > North Eastern Europe.

Manufacture Date: Dec 1929.


Acquisition Date:

Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch.

Description: the Kokle is a fretless plucked zither or psaltery it is a member of the chordophone family. Kokle are from Latvia although they do have some very close relatives being the Estonian Kannel, Lithuanian Kankles, Russian gusli and Finish Kantele. Is is thought the tradition of playing and making the kokle dates back to 2000 years. Although an archeological discovery revealed a specimen of a kokle to date back to the 13th century. Written record of the Kokle can be traced back to the 17th century. In the 21st century the Kokle is one of the most admired musical instruments in Latvia.

Types of Kokle:
Kokle differ in their design from region to region. For example my variety of Kokle is from the Kurzemes region, where the capitol city of Riga resides. Kurzeme kokle's are usually very ornate their hand patterns are hand carved. In contrast Latgalian kokle's are often plain in appearance and do have a different profile of wing and over all body shape, both types of kokle usually have 11 strings, and share the same beautiful sound when played. Developed in the 20th century Chromatic kokle appeared mainly in use for large ensembles, orchestral accompaniment and symphonic arrangements.

Construction: Typically the length can range from 50 to 70 centimetres depending on the specimen of the instrument. Kokle are typically constructed from birch, pine, willow or oak. Older kokle feature dowel construction to keep the instrument together they are carved by hand and assembled with animal hide glue. Wooden friction tuning pegs which are still used to this day and a metal rod are used to keep the strings in tune.