I was contacted by Andrew King who said he could provide me with a little information about some of the Hardanger fiddles involved with the LOTR score that his father had made. I was interested and he said he'd get back to me in a week. Well that turned into a few months as he tried to do some fact checking among those involved. Finally, a few weeks ago he got back to me with a short article.
The use of the Hardanger fiddle in parts of the LOTR score sparked a lot of interest in this Norwegian folk-version of the violin, with its unplayed 'sympathetic' strings under the fingerboard adding a ghostly resonance to the sound, and its characteristic patterned decoration.
If you were to encounter two of the Hardangers involved in the recordings however, you might be surprised. Neither was made in Norway, or by a Norwegian maker, nor are they decorated in the traditional style. Both were in fact made by my father, Mr J E King, an English luthier. Now retired, but still making, Mr King has produced a wide variety of stringed instruments for classical, folk and early music players, all with his own distinctive sense of design. An instrument-maker with an engineering background, he has an intuitive sense of the mechanics of sound-production, ensuring that his instruments have strong and distinctive 'voices'.
In the hectic schedule of rehearsal and recording, memory of the details of exactly what happened quickly becomes hazy. What seems certain however is that when the LOTR music-makers were looking for a Hardanger for The Two Towers, they approached English folk-musician Heather Brown with a request to borrow the instrument called 'Martha',... (READ MORE HERE)