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Annotated Checklist of Psalmodikons

Makers

Savosnick, Ernst


Norwegian and Swedish Psalmodikon Traditions

Norwegian psalmodikon tradition utilizes a transposition stick or rule (a numerical method of reading music), placed above the fretboard to facilitate performance in various keys for an array of singing situations.

Swedish psalmodikon tradition uses permanent position markings—often in several rows—in place of the transposition rule, requiring the string to be re-tuned.


Checklist in Chronological Order


NMM 3842. Psalmodikon, Sweden, early 19th century. Bowed box zither. Numerical position markings hand-painted above fretboard. Wooden frets (integral to fretboard) carved from single piece of wood. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.



NMM 13069. Psalmodikon, Sweden or Swedish settlement in the U.S.A., ca. 1850. Bowed box zither. Position markings in form of numbers carved into fretboard, as well as black-painted squares on fretboard. Top and bottom sound-box braces rest in notches cut into sides. Crescent-shaped sound holes. Semi-circular, cut-away portion of sound box on playing side, near saddle end. Paul and Jean Christian Collection, 2006.



NMM 6753. Psalmodikon, Norwegian settlement in U.S.A., ca. 1850-1860. Bowed box zither. Brackets for securing transposition stick undercut to hold sifferskrift charts more effectively. Wooden bridge held in place by two wooden brackets facilitates tuning when switching between transposition sticks. Position markings visible between brackets. Gift of Curtis Teague and Loretta Simonet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1999.



NMM 4978. Psalmodikon, Trondheim, Norway, ca. 1875-1900. Bowed box zither. Three transposition sticks with notation on front and back sides. Beveled edge opposite fretboard facilitates bowing. Wooden spike construction. Bow with string tension system in which a metal wire passes through the frog, over the stick, hooking onto diagonally-inserted metal spikes, thereby replacing need for a screw. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.



NMM 11814. Psalmodikon, Norway or Norwegian settlement in U.S.A., ca. 1875-1900. Bowed box zither. Transposition stick with sifferskrift charts. Bracket and long wooden rail, parallel to the fretboard, holds transposition stick in place. Wooden bridge held in place by two wooden brackets, allowing forward and backward motion for tuning. Gift of Dianne and Gordon Leraas, Colman, South Dakota, 2006.



NMM 12650. Psalmodikon, Norway or Norwegian settlement in U.S.A., ca. 1875-1900. Bowed box zither. Two rows of numerical position markings carved into top of sound box, darkened with ink. Each row corresponds to a different key. Rectangular piece of tin added to nut end of sound box. Paul and Jean Christian Collection, 2006.



NMM 12651. Psalmodikon, Norway or Norwegian settlement in U.S.A., ca. 1900-1925. Bowed box zither. Numeric and alphabetic notation of pitches hand-written in pencil above fretboard. Hand-forged iron nails. Hand-carved, wooden peg inserted into end block. Paul and Jean Christian Collection, 2006.



NMM 4979. Psalmodikon by Ernst Savosnick, Trondheim, Norway, ca. 1914. Bowed box zither. Transposition stick with sifferskrift charts, a numerical method of reading music associated with psalmodikon tradition. Wooden brackets attached to top of sound box to secure transposition rule. Violoncello friction peg. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.



NMM 2588. Psalmodikon by Edward K. Andersonís great uncle [name unknown], Decorah, Iowa, ca. 1935. Norwegian-style, bowed box zither with transposition stick. This example, made by the donorís great-great uncle, is based on an example he brought from Norway. Copper-wire frets. Single gut string wound on machine tuning peg. Modern bow. Gift of Luis Torres, Arlington, Virginia, 1979.


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