Once upon a time there was a young man. He was a talented kokle player and had a voice that was magical. When he played and sang, animals and birds came from all around to listen. Wild animals were as meek as lambs. One night the young man lost his way in the woods and fell into the den of a wolf. The wolf approached with blazingeyes and teeth all bared, ready to devour him. At this very moment the young man began to sing and play the kokle. The wolf then paused, lay down next to the man and soon began howling the melody of the song. As dawn broke, the young man jumped out of the den to set off for home. The wolf then followed him on his way, faithfully like a dog, until they reached the garden gate.
The kokle is a popular folk instrument in Latvia. It is played to a very high standard in the country’s homes and also is taught in music schools. Mainly women and girls choose to learn this instrument, which can have up to 33 strings and whose origins date back to the 13thcentury.
The kokle is currently undergoing a renaissance in the contemporary, energetic sounds of Laima Jansone’s performances. Using an original and vibrant approach, Jansone extends traditional ways of playing the instrument with new ideas of her own. Taking inspiration from Latvian folk song, her pieces interweave meditative and impulsive elements and both classical and contemporary forms.