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Holur kassi og grófur strengur: heimildir um alþýðuhljóðfæri á ýmsum tímum fram til ársins 1900.

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Sú skoðun að Íslendingar hafi ekki átt nein hljóðfæri er lífseig og henni er jafnvel haldið á lofti enn í dag. Við leit að heimildum um íslensku fiðluna hafa samt komið í ljós ýmsar upplýsingar um önnur alþýðuhljóðfæri sem spilað hefur verið á hér á síðustu öldum. Auk þess er ljóst að í heimildum er auðveldara að finna upplýsingar um innflutt hljóðfæri sem notuð voru á opinberum vettvangi, svo sem kirkjuorgel, og þau sem heldra fólk hafði í stofum sínum en um þau sem lítið fer fyrir og mest voru notuð af alþýðufólki. Við þessa athugun hefur einnig vaknað sú spurning hvort skoðanir á hljóðfæraeign eða hljóðfæraleysi landsmanna byggist á viðhorfum til alþýðuhljóðfæra frekar en traustum heimildum. Þá hefur orðið ljós þörfin á að líta til margra ólíkra fræðigreina og nýta mismunandi heimildir sem geta gefið vísbendingar um hljóðfæri og hljóðfæraleik á Íslandi. Rýnt verður í heimildir frá mismunandi tímum og þær settar í samhengi við strauma og stefnur sem ríkjandi voru á hverju tímabili fyrir sig.
Pre-1900 References to Musical Folk Instruments in Iceland This article sheds light on various references appearing between 1500 and 1900 to the musical instruments which Icelandic commoners were playing for entertainment. Besides revealing little-known sources on various simple instruments, the article focuses on the attitudes implied by these sources and how such attitudes developed throughout the period. Until 1800, references to musical instruments were generally neutral or even rather positive, but enlightenment ideas and an increasing knowledge of Western music led to more critical perspectives. As the 19th century unfolded with its Romantic spirit of nationalism, however, this negative tone changed once more. The older instruments came to be treasured as uniquely Icelandic and therefore valuable, even though they were all known and used in neighbouring countries and were neither entirely Icelandic nor particularly typical of this island’s inhabitants. On the other hand, individual instruments were frequently crafted by the Icelanders who used them, whether based on knowledge passed on since the settlement or on imported models. Ideas on the previous use of musical instruments seem to have been shaped by critical and often negative attitudes towards simple instruments as well as by a shortage of sources on them, so that even today one can hear the opinion that Icelanders never played musical instruments at all in bygone centuries. The article counters this by asking whether it is not precisely the paucity of references to instrument playing which indicates that people often saw no need to mention such ordinary, homemade objects. The article also suggests the necessity of staying alert for different types of sources and allusions that might cast further light on Icelandic musical life during previous centuries.