Kokle: description of the instrument, composition, history, types, playing technique

Kokle: description of the instrument, composition, history, types, playing technique

Kokle (original name – kokles) is a Latvian folk musical instrument belonging to the class of strings, plucked instruments. Analogues are Russian gusli, Estonian kannel, Finnish kantele.


The device of the kokles is similar to related instruments:

  • Frame. Production material – wood of a certain breed. Concert copies are made of maple, amateur models are made of birch, linden. The body can be one-piece or assembled from separate parts. Its length is approximately 70 cm. The body is equipped with a deck, hollow inside.
  • Strings. They are attached to a narrow metal rod on which the pegs are located. Ancient koklé had five strings made from animal veins, vegetable fibers, the lower of which was bourdon. Modern models are equipped with twenty metal strings – this has significantly expanded the playing capabilities of the instrument, allowing it to sound more expressive.

Concert models, in addition to the listed parts, may have pedals that allow you to change the tone during the Play.


The first mention of kokle dates back to the XNUMXth century. Probably, the Latvian folk instrument appeared much earlier: when written evidence of its existence appeared, it was already in every Latvian peasant family, it was played mainly by men.

At the end of the 30th century, kokles practically fell into disuse. The traditions of the Play were restored by a group of enthusiasts: in the 70s, records of playing the kokles were released; in the 80s and XNUMXs, the instrument became part of folk ensembles.


Varieties of cockles:

  • Latgalian – equipped with a wing that performs 2 functions at once: serves as a hand rest, enhances the sound.
  • Kurzeme – the wing is missing, the body is richly decorated with patterns.
  • Zitrovidny – a model made in the Western style, with a massive body, an increased set of strings.
  • Concert – with an extended range, equipped with additional details. helping to change the tone.

Play technique

The musician puts the structure on the table, sometimes places it on his knees, hanging the body around his neck. He performs the melody while sitting: the fingers of the right hand pinch, pluck the strings, the fingers of the other hand drown out unnecessary sounds.

Лайма Янсон (Латвия) Этнический фестиваль"Музыки мира" 2019

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