Nyckelharpa simply translates at Keyed-Fiddle. It is a fiddle that has keys. These keys push tangents that act as frets, each key pushing one tangent against a string to fret it and change the pitch of the note. Since at least the 1700s the nyckelharpa has had sympathetic resonating strings. These are not directly bowed, but are allowed to ring free by themselves, which increases the volume and adds resonance to the bowed melody strings and gives it an other worldly sound. It is said that all nyckelharpa players are embued with magical properties.

There is a growing community of nyckelharpa players throughout the whole world and through the whole year.