The Urnes Grand is an ornamental version of the Concert Grand, based on Viking art with Celtic influences.
The village of Urnes, Norway is the site of a renowned Viking church of the Dark Ages, built of wood. Into its door, one panel of which is shown at right, was carved by some unknown Vikings an inscrutable and vastly imaginative intertwining of beasts, snakes, and vegetation. The style became popular through the 11th through 12th centuries in Scandinavia and Scandinavian trading posts in Ireland. It is said that such beastly and horrific church door carvings were intended to be a barrier to demonic and animistic beings and spiritual energies of the world outside the church.
By far the most terrifying of all snakes in Norse myth is Jormungand, the World Serpent, sometimes known as the "World Eating Snake." The Urnes Grand's major bout soundhole design is an interpretation of a silver brooch (shown at left) from the National Museum of Iceland depicting this monster at work on some hapless beastie.
And honoring the Celtic influence on Viking art, the minor bout soundholes are Celtic knots from the Book of Kells, the same one executed in all four soundholes of the Concert Grand. Here is an article on creating the soundhole carving.
As in all Bear Meadow dulcimers, there are carved scrolls at the peghead and tail. It is one of your assurances that you are holding an instrument made at Bear Meadow. Click on the picture at right for an article on carving the peghead.
The top is finished with purfling, twin inlaid strips of black wood, which trim the top and adds a little stiffness to the tonewood right at its perimeter. We make the purfling here at Bear Meadow, so we can use the same woods as the top is made of in the center of the sandwich. That way, the purfling ages the same way as the top.
On the back is another showpiece, a purfling inlay of black veneer and boxwood which runs the edges, interrupted in an exponential pattern by tiny red diamonds, and then breaks into complex open knotwork at the tail and heel of the back. Notice the back is equipped with small "pumpkin seed" feet, which greatly aid in acoustic transfer from the back, when playing on a table top. Since the back has a very small amount of arch, these feet also help stabilize the instrument as it sits on a surface.
The Urnes Grand is built on the mold of the Concert Grand, and sounds the same. To listen to the Concert Grand go to the Music Selections Page
Please understand that if you have a preference in figure or other matters regarding the materials, it will be taken into account. But the voice and the luthier's aesthetics will govern the final choice of all materials.
See the Ordering Page for price and ordering details.