The kantele is the national instrument of Finland; it is a sort of harp held in the lap, like a zither, with 5 or more strings. The hero Väinämöinen played a magical kantele, made from the jawbone of a pike, in the Kalevala, which is Finland's most famous epic poem.

Traditional kanteles had only 5 strings, and were made either from a single block of wood or from separate boards. In 1920, Paul Salminen developed a more complicated kantele with a mechanism to raise or lower pitch, so that the player could change keys in the middle of a song. Modern kanteles usually have from 14 to 38 strings.

In Kalevala Day, Febryary 28, 1999, in the main celebration event of Kalevala anniversary, Väinönlieskat, in Helsinki, Kanteleverstas Koistinen was proud to present Hannu Koistinen's interesting new instrument: the electric kantele.

The instrument has 39 strings, has a playing mechanism similiar to big "concert kanteles", and is said to be good for pop, rock, jazz or just plain traditional Finnish music. The listeners have praised its unique sound - while normal kanteles have beautiful sound in themselves, the electric version's sound is apparently at least as interesting.

We can't say he mr. Koistinen invented the thing, however, because the idea was fairly old. Even the old song parodying Kalevala has a stanza "Vihaisesti Väinämöisen / sähkökannel humajaapi" ("Väinämöinen's electric kantele hums rather angrily".) He merely made reality what was already in everyone's dreams.

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