Gavin Pennycook Gives Celtic Music a Scandinavian Touch


Celtic Nyckelharpa

Self Produced 002

Insofar as he can tell, Gavin Pennycook (ex of Deaf Shepherd) has recorded the very first collection of Celtic tunes played on the nyckelharpa, a keyed fiddle popular in Sweden. For those who’ve never seen one, it hangs from a strap around one’s neck and has a series of keys that can be depressed to change the pitch. It also has a dozen sympathetic strings and has drone capability. The result is a sound that is resonant and full. The keying also allows for exceedingly smooth transitions within and between tunes. You’ll hear familiar tunes such as “The Pinch of Snuff,” “The Lark in the Morning,” “The Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “The Rights of Man” on this collection, but none of them will sound quite like you’re used to hearing them. Just so you can hear the contrast, Pennycook also throws in both standard and octave-strung fiddles. And if you’re not impressed by all of that, he also plays a bit of Gallician bagpipe on the final track, which blends with Rob Truswell’s guitar, the octave-strung fiddle, and the nyckelharpa to produce a sound akin to forcing a hurdy-gurdy to swallow a biniou. It’s an album of very cool sounds and Pennycook wonders why more people aren’t using the nyckelharpa in Celtic music. A great question!

Check him out on You Tube.

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