Langeleik is a dulcimer or zither
type of instrument that has roots in the Middle Ages. It uses a long, thin,rectangular
resonance box, with or without a bottom, and a variable number of strings that
are strung from one end to screw attachements at the other. The string nearest
the player passes over a series of frets where the melody is formed. The
langeleik is first mentioned in documents from 1622 that refer to a 1619
incident. There, the instrument is called langspill (lit. long play)- a concept
that was common at that time. The oldest langeleik known in Norway was found at
Vardalsåsen near Gjøvik, in the Oppland district, only a few years ago. The year
1524 is inscribed on it.
We know that the langeleik was played in all of Norway through the centuries, even all the way north in Finnmark where the instruments is mentioned in connection with witch hunts around 1660. However, it is only in Valdres that we find an unbroken slåttemusikk tradition on this instrument. In recent years, the langeleik has become widely used several places in the country.