Acoustical Analysis and Model-Based Sound Synthesis of the Kantele

Cumhur Erkut1, Matti Karjalainen1, Patty Huang2 and Vesa Välimäki1

(1) Helsinki University of Technology, Laboratory of Acoustics and Audio Signal Processing, P.O. Box 3000, FIN-02015 HUT, Espoo, Finland

(2) Stanford University, Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), Stanford, CA 94305-8180



The 5-string Finnish kantele is a traditional folk music instrument that has unique structural features, resulting in a sound of bright and reverberant timbre. In this article we present an analysis of the sound generation principles in the kantele, based on measurements and analytical formulation. The most characteristic features of the unique timbre are caused by the bridgeless string termination around a tuning pin at one end and the knotted termination around a supporting bar at the other end. These result in prominent second-order nonlinearity and strong beating of harmonics, respectively. A computational model of the instrument is also formulated and the algorithm is made efficient for real-time synthesis to simulate these features of the instrument timbre.

Pacs: 43.75.Gh, 43.75.Wx

This paper is submitted to the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Pronunciation of the kantele

The correct pronunciation is 'kän-te-le.

 Kantele music on the web

Sound examples of Figure 5

  1. A softly plucked tone .
  2. A strongly plucked tone .

Sound examples of Figure 6

  1. Normal kantele tone.
  2. Modified (knotless) kantele tone.

Laser vibrometer signal of Figure 10

  1. Signal.
  2. Analysis Matlabä script.

Sound examples of Figure 16

  1. Synthetic softly plucked kantele tone.
  2. Synthetic strongly plucked kantele tone.

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Last modified: 21.05.2002
Author: Cumhur Erkut