Amazing Grace on the 5-string kantele

Harmonics on a 5 string kantele

My kantle with turquoise and coral markers for harmonics

I was working on preparing materials for my workshop at Flute Haven 2015 on playing the  Native American style flute with the kantele. There are several ways to play flutes with the kantele — all of them beautiful.

When I took my lunch break, I decided to see what was on YouTube and discovered a very beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace on the kantele.  As you watch the video below, do appreciate that it is not easy to get such a wonderful tone from the harmonics (also called overtones).  The player in the video has done some serious practicing.

After viewing the video, I promptly marked my kantele to show the correct place on the strings for the harmonics.  Practice began.  It will take a few weeks to get a consistently clear harmonic, but the goal is set.

Amazing Grace on the Kantele

5 comments

  1. Jeanne Lyle · · Reply

    Pretty! So they marked the basic notes on the board under the strings? I wish I could make it to Flute Haven this year to see your new way to play!

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    1. Yes, it is a way of playing that takes some practice — getting the harmonic to sound each time you pluck the string. I’ve been practice with “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee” because the harmonics are all in line with each other. “Amazing Grace” has a difficulty variable. I’m going to miss you at Flute Haven, Jeanne!

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  2. nanckeller@aol.com · · Reply

    I love the Amazing grace! I just found out I am going to have more surgery ,.This will be my 19th surgery. It can get very depressive. Playing with my flute and kantele while re coving after my hip replacement was so comforting. Now my Achilles tendon is ruptured and the recovery will be 6-9 months. I’m I haven’t gotten to my Kantele as much as I would have wanted. Life is all ways giving me new problems such as being the only surviving child to my 93 yr old Mother and baby sitting my grand daughter, which is a good form of stress. Looking forward to seeing you.

    Nancy

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  3. Lived in Finland for a year, and a friend made me one. Kantele, stupid auto correct. What should I use for replacement strings?

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    1. Replacement strings should be matched to the size of strings that were originally put on the kantele. On my 5-string kanteles, I use size .014″ or .013″ strings — depending on the size of the kantele. You can buy individual strings with loop ends at a music store. They’re usually about $1 each, but may charge you more. It would be best to ask the maker of your kantele what size string she/he used and match that. If you use too heavy a string gauge, it will break often and be frustrating. If you use too light a string gauge, you will have a feeble sound and not get the volume you deserve from your kantele.

      Liked by 1 person

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