NCS Newsletter Winter 1997-98
Olav Sem, Inger Karin Zettergren, Alf Tveit,
and Jonas Hjalmarsson
Featured at Scandia Festival in Petaluma, February 14-15, 1998
The upcoming Scandia Festival, the annual Scandinavian dance and music workshop during the President's Weekend in February, will feature Olav Sem and Karen Zettergren teaching Telespringar. Accompanying them will be Hardingfele player Alf Tveit, who will play for the dance workshops and the evening parties. Swedish fiddler Jonas Hjalmarsson will also be on hand to teach music workshops during the day and also play at the evening parties. Dance and fiddle workshops will take place at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, in Petaluma, California, 35 minutes by car north of San Francisco.
Olav Sem has become well known to Scandinavian dancers throughout the United States since his first appearance at Scandia Festival in 1987. Coming from Heddal in eastern Telemark, he began dancing at the age of 11, learning Telespringar in tradition from his mother and a local good dancer, Ole Juve. He has received the top award for his dancing at various competitions, including the Porsgrunn festival (on three different occasions!). He is also an accomplished singer and teacher of traditional Telemark songs. He is known for a charming sense of humor and his excellent command of the English language. His last visit to California was in 1993, when he taught at the Scandia Camp in Mendocino.
Teaching with Olav will be Inger Karin Zettergren who has an impressive knowledge of Telemark dance and culture. Describing herself, she writes "I have been dancing since I was born. Both my parents dance and I learned from them. I participated at my first landskappleik in 1976, and started dancing with Olav Sem around 1983. Together we have won a lot of nice prizes and have given concerts in Norway and abroad, alone and as part of a larger group. I have been teaching dance (bygdedans, turdans, sångdans, gammeldans and swing) since I was 22." This will be Inger's first trip to the U.S. in more than 20 years.
Alf Tveit's music speaks for him. A class A master of the Hardingfele, he is the dance fiddler preferred by Olav and Inger. Alf first taught in the United States at Mendocino Scandia Camp in 1984. Since then he has taught and played in many parts of the country. His last appearance in the Bay Area was at Scandia Festival in 1992. He is fluent in English and has a soft, friendly personal style. He is also a wonderful dancer. During the weekend he will play for the dance teaching and at the evening parties. Alf will be staying in the Bay Area for another week after the Festival during which time he will teach at hardingfele workshops of February 21 and 22, and will be available for private lessons (see the following article).
Swedish fiddler Jonas Hjalmarsson will be making his first trip to the Bay Area to teach fiddle workshops during the weekend. Jonas is currently teaching half time in place of Jonny Soling at the Malung folkhögskola fiddle course, and is considered one of the most popular instructors at Malung's annual summer fiddle course. He started playing fiddle at the age of 10. His earliest exposure to traditional folk music was through the Älvdalen spelmanslag. While growing up, he spent much time playing with other accomplished fiddlers his age, such as Kalle Liljeberg, Lasse Björk, Anders Bjernulf, Pontus Selderman and Hans Röjås. Later he attended Jonny Soling's fiddle course in Malung, and then the Music Academy in Stockholm. He writes, "If I were to introduce myself and my music, I would rather talk about fiddlers who have influenced me rather than geographic areas. The fiddlers who have influenced/are still influencing me are Gössa Anders, Evert Åhs, Ole Hjorth, Simon Simonsson, Pål Olle, and of course, my colleagues at Malung, Kalle Almlöf and Jonny Soling."
Pre-registration is required for the dance workshops. To do so, please contact Nobi Kuratori at (650) 851-7077 or <email@example.com>, or Brooke Babcock at (415) 334-3455 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Efforts will be made to maintain a good balance of men and women. Since the number of dancers admitted is usually limited by the number of men who register, men are encouraged to register early. Partners will be changed frequently during the dance teaching.
Fiddle workshops will take place all day on Saturday and Sunday, February 14 and 15 at the same site as the dance workshops (although the Sunday morning session will be off-site). Instruction will be at an intermediate/advanced level in one group. Pre-registration is encouraged. Part-time registration will be accepted. Beginner's can "audit" for half-price. Depending upon his schedule, Jonas may be available for an additional workshop on Monday, February 16. For registration materials or more information, contact Fred Bialy at (510) 215-5974 or <email@example.com>.
Alf Tveit Hardingfele Workshops!
by Jeanne Sawyer
Master fiddler Alf Tveit will teach two hardingfele workshops in the Bay Area on Saturday and Sunday, February 21 and 22. You can go to Scandia Festival in Petaluma to dance (or to the Swedish fiddle workshops), and get your hardingfele classes the following weekend.
A "slower" workshop on Saturday will be held from 12-5 pm. Location details are still being worked out, but we expect this workshop will be held somewhere on the Peninsula. A "faster" workshop will be held on Sunday, exact time and location are yet to be determined, but the workshop will be essentially all afternoon and we expect to hold it somewhere in the El Cerrito area.
The fee for the workshop will be $25 per session. Everybody is invited and encouraged to attend either or both sessions (and play), but should not expect the pace to be adjusted if they're not really at the appropriate level.
Alf will also be available for private lessons during the week following Scandia Festival. The charge will $30 per hour. For more information on times/locations or how to register for the workshops, how to schedule a private lesson, or to get a copy of a practice tape recorded by Alf (hopefully available at the end of January), contact Jeanne Sawyer at 408-929-5602 or email: jsawyer@SawyerPartnership.com.
Alf will also play for the regular 3rd Saturday dance party in Sunnyvale on February 21. It's listed in the calendar section of the News, or ask Jeanne for more details.
The News from... Sweden
translations by Fred Bialy
Items of interest culled from the pages of Spelmannen and Dalarnas
At this year's Zorn Medal competition that was held in Vilhemina, Styrbjörn Bergelt from Stockholm and Sture Sahlström from Tobo (Uppland) were each awarded a gold medal. In contrast to the bronze and silver medals, which are awarded for exceptional playing of tunes before a jury, the gold medal recognizes a long illustrious career within folk music (much like the Life Achievement Award at the Oscars). Styrbjörn was recognized for his masterly and exemplary playing of the stråkharpa, silverbasharpa and various folk flutes. Sture, master on the nyckelharpa, was honored for his richly traditional playing of tunes from Uppland.
Rotspel, the main Swedish mail-order source for recorded Scandinavian and world folk music opened its first retail store in Stockholm this past September. The store is located at Tulegatan 37 and is open M-F noon to 6:00 pm and on Saturdays 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Owner Pierre Alwert (see "Resor med Pierre" in NCS News V. 6, Nr. 3) also stocks music books and some instruments. Rotspel can be reached through the internet at: <http://www.wineasy.se/rotspel/>.
The latest issue of Spelmannen, the quarterly magazine for Sveriges Spelmäns Riksförbund (SSR), celebrates the 50th anniversary of the organization's birth. Gunnar Ternhag, one of the earlier editors of Spelmannen reminisces in an article about the early days of the organization.
The first meeting to consider the formation of a national musicians organization took place in November, 1946. Chaired by Knis Karl Aronsson, the committee was responding to a growing interest among newly forming musicians' organizations in the various counties for a national organization that would interconnect the local groups. Knis Karl had also been approached by the Landslaget for Spelemenn, the national musicians organization in Norway, that was interested in having contact with its Swedish counterpart.
The formal founding of SSR (known as Sveriges Spelmäns Riksstyrelse until the name was changed to Sveriges Spelmäns Riksförbund in 1951) took place at a meeting on July 5, 1947, but only after a lengthy and heated discussion over whether the organization should be a part of the already active Sveriges Ungdomsringen or instead be an independent organization. The only proponent at this meeting of being part of the Ungdomsringen was Gustaf Wetters, who had suggested this already in 1944. As a compromise, it was decided that SSR and Ungdomsringen would each have a representative on the others governing board.
The earliest tasks of the new organization were to plan new musicians' gatherings (spelmansstämmor) and develope a common tune repertoire. To that end, the various local organizations were invited to send in five tunes each of which two would be chosen for an official Allspel collection.
In another article, Tore Sander, long-time member of SSR's board, gives his perspective on SSR's activities through the years. From its inception, the SSR was based in Stockholm, largely because most of the initiators of the organization lived there. Decentralization was an unknown concept in the '50s and '60s. The annual meeting took place in Stockholm every year through 1968 when it was suggested to hold the next year's meeting in Hudiksvall. This suggestion was well received and the success of 1969's meeting led to more and more of the annual meetings moving away from Stockholm so that by the 1980's there was little if any interest in returning to Stockholm.
In the early years of SSR, according to Tore, many important issues did not get the attention they perhaps deserved. SSR had little influence on decisions about including folk music in radio programs. Even though most of the participants at the annual Zorn medal competitions (organized by Sveriges Ungdomsringen) were members of SSR, the organization had little influence there either. It wasn't until the '60s that SSR began to make inroads upon increasing awareness of folk music and improving its status in society.
The late '60s and early '70s saw the beginning of increasing government recognition and financial support of folk music activities. Sveriges Visarkiv was made a state organization in 1970 and the Samfundet för visforskning was established to help support the Visarkiv's activities. The governments Kulturråd was formed and financial support for all cultural activity, including folk music, increased. In 1973, the Institutet för Rikskonserter was founded. In 1978, the Svensk Folkmusikfond was established. The improved financial support allowed SSR to offer travel stipends to music groups travelling abroad and organize more music courses and seminars. SSR also was able to finally afford opening an office which was first located in Möklinta (Västmanland), later to be moved to Västerås, and eventually to its present location in Falun. The first issue of Spelmannen came out in 1978.
Two new publications about music in southern Uppland and Roslagen are available through the Vallentuna kulturförvaltning. The first features music of the Sander family of Vallentuna as still played by Tore Sander, representing the family's fourth generation. The other publication features the music of Tore Lindquist who plays his own compositions as well as tunes learned from his maternal grandfather "Manne i Fiskeså" and other older fiddlers. Both publications are the result of research by Per Runberg, an ethnologist and musician. The publications contain transcriptions as well as information about the fiddlers' lives. They are available for 85 Skr. through PostGiro 96 56 48-9. Recordings of these musicians are available for listening at the Vallentuna library.
This past summer, the Svensk Visarkiv published the fourth volume of a series called Noterat. This issue contains contributions by Lars Lilliestam (Nordman and "det svenska"), Gunnar Ternhag (Daniel Hanssons song book), Bo Nyberg (accordions in Dalarna), and Lennar Kjellgren (the national song competition at the turn of the century). The booklet costs 60 Skr. and can be obtained from the Visarkiv by calling 011-46-8-34 09 35.
The Bingsjö spelmansstämma lost 40,000 Skr this past year and is at risk for being cancelled in 1998. Unlike other towns in the Siljan area where local organizations are responsible for arranging concerts and dances as part of Musik vid Siljan week, there is no local organization in Bingsjö that has taken on this responsibility. Over the years, Musik vid Siljan has had to do all the work themselves. This has not been a problem during the years when up to 30,000 attended the Bingsjöstämma. In recent years attendance and income have declined but expenses have stayed steady. Unless a better collaboration can be worked out with the residents of Bingsjö, Musik vid Siljan will organize a different event to take it's place in 1998.
It has been 20 years since Kalle Almlöf started teaching his folk music course at Malungs folkhögskola, which gave cause to celebrate this past November at a weekend gathering for alumni and anyone else who was interested in attending. A Saturday night dinner was followed by a special concert featuring Kalle along with Jonny Soling, Maria Röjås, Perjos Lars Halvarsson, Jalle Hjalmarsson, Hanne Kjersti and Mats Berglund. Hanne and Mats also were featured teachers at a song and fiddle course respectively.
Kalle first started teaching music history a few hours per week at Malungs folkhögskola in 1977. Freshly graduated from the Music conservatory in Stockholm, he had sought a job at the music school in Malung, but was turned away, apparently out of fear that he would draw away all the students from the school's newly hired violin teacher since folk music had become so popular. After his first year at Malungs folkhögskola, he convinced the administration to offer a semester-long course in folk music with an emphasis on fiddle playing. The course was so successful that the folkhögskola added on a year-long course under the direction of Jonny Soling for the 1979-80 school year. In 1984, the school added a semester-long song course, first taught by Agneta Stolpe, but taken over by Maria Röjås in 1986. In 1994, the folkhögskola began to offer a second semester-long song course, initially thought of as a continuation of the first course, but now open to anyone with prior singing experience. In total, almost 700 students have now graduated from the Malung courses.
Except for a brief decline in interest in the late 1980's, the courses have always been fully attended. In the beginning, Kalle's course had room for twelve. That number has grown to 17, the same for Jonny's course. Maria accepts 16 in each course. Most of the students are young, the median age being in the low 20's. But the range of ages has been 16 to 70. In the early years there was a greater emphasis on pedagogy. Many of Jonny's graduates went on to lead study circles at home. The first few years of his course even included a 10 week mid-year break so that the students could get some experience teaching before finishing off the year. Now more of the students are there just to improve their own playing. Maria has found over the years that her students have become more serious about learning singing technique.
Pers Hans Olsson from Rättvik has been chosen to receive a government guaranteed annual salary as a folk musician. A recent description of Pers Hans by Dave Richardsson (member of Boys of the Lough) in an Irish music magazine sums up why: "This brilliant master fiddler radiates an enormous weight and craft. He plays solo...he stands there, straight up and down - he isn't particularly verbal - but his tone and playing style are incomparable. Without words he speaks about his life, where he comes from - about humanity."
In the latest issue of Dalarnas Spelmansblad, Brodd Leif Andersson reminisces about Ingvar Norman, a superb fiddler, collector and friend with whom he played many years together and who died in May of 1996 at the age of 82 (see The News from...Sweden, NCS News, V. 7, Nr. 4)
Leif writes that it has been almost 50 years since Ingvar, together with Johan Larsson from Gagnef, documented the old polska that was danced in Orsa. After a trip in Norway where Ingvar had seen people dancing old Norwegian dances, he had begun to wonder whether comparable dances could be found in Sweden. He later learned from Gössa Anders that there still were people in Orsa dancing the old style polska. With Gössa's help, Ingvar contacted 4 or 5 couples who danced for him and Johan at Orsa's Gammelgård in the spring of 1947. These two men were pioneer's in the field of documenting dance and struggled with the problem of how to describe a dance on paper so people who had never seen the dance could understand how it was done. They had no one they could ask. They had to solve the problem themselves.
From this beginning, Ingvar, by himself or in collaboration with others, most often Johan Larsson, went on to document and publish over 90 different polskas and local variants of other village dances from Bohuslän to Ångermanland. In many cases, Ingvar and his collaborators were there in the nick of time, for these dances lived on in the memories of only older people who were close to dying and would have taken the dances to their graves.
In 1969, together with Göran Karlholm, who had been doing his own dance research in Jämtland and Härjedalen, Ingvar and Johan began the polska medal testing movement which yearly attracts 100-150 dance couples and has considerably contributed to the renaissance that bygdedans has enjoys in Sweden today.
In spite of his trailblazing efforts at documenting dance, Ingvar was foremost a fiddler. Shortly after his birth on January 22, 1914, Ingvar's parents moved the family to an apartment directly over that of his paternal grandparents who were both musicians. According to Ingvar's mother, before he could talk or even walk, Ingvar had his ear to the floor listening to the music coming almost nightly from below.
At age seven, Ingvar started to play cittra, then at age nine, fiddle. By the age of 14 he was playing in public, first for the local folk dance group, then soon for four other dance groups in neighboring towns that he could reach by bicycle. Around that time, Ingvar became involved with research into developing a folk costume specific for Säter to replace the Hedemora costume that was being used for lack of anything else. Contacts with older people in Säter, notations in old estate inventories, and advice from Karl Trotzig of Hedemora (who had worked at reconstructing the costumes for several other local villages) finally led in 1934 to the Säter costume that is still used today.
Around this time, Ingvar also started organizing the annual spelmansstämma in Säter himself, thereby coming into contact with that era's most famous Dalarna fiddlers. Ingvar particularly liked Anders Frisell and Nylands Erik whom he had already heard playing in Säter during the 1920s.
During Ingvar's youth there were only a few of the older folk music tradition bearers left playing in southern Dalarna. At an early age, Ingvar was already out collecting songs and tunes from them. He himself described these experiences as giving him a key to the older traditions that had a great influence on his own style. His many years of collecting music has been published in three volumes of transcriptions containing 2,332 tunes from southern Dalarna. Ingvar was a forceful fiddler who embellished his tunes with trills and ornaments in a characteristic style. He played double stops and open strings when they enhanced the tone of his fiddle. His tone was certain and pure and he never used glissando. His bowing technique stood well above the average for folk fiddlers.
During the years, Ingvar made a large number of recordings for radio programs. Because these recordings are difficult to obtain, plans are in the works to produce a CD that presents a representative selection of his music.
Ingvar's teaching style would have been unsuitable for today's typical folk music course. He had absolutely no patience for playing slowly, even less for repeating a few bars over and over again at a slow tempo. Particularly telling was a letter that Leif, at the age of 13, received from Ingvar just before he (Leif) was to meet with him for the first time. Ingvar listed 56 tunes that Leif should look at before he came, acknowledging that "it was a whole mess of tunes" but that "it would be so much better if you can also make harmonies to them!"
Already at that first meeting with Ingvar, Leif was confronted with Ingvar's signature dislike for accordions. In his characteristic drastic way Ingvar explained: "Accordion players are like Egypt's grasshoppers. They come in great multitudes and destroy all music in their path!" During an interview for the Dala-Demokraten before a spelmanstämma Ingvar was arranging in 1979, he commented that accordions were not welcome at the event because "at times of war, one makes do with substitutes. But we are not at war now. The accordion is a substitute, it's not an instrument." The ensuing storm of letters from outraged readers continued all summer. Leif feels that Ingvar entered the debate with enthusiasm and that he got pleasure from it because he always found it easy to express himself.
Leif played a lot with Ingvar in public during the 1970's. He always had to come up with the harmonies because Ingvar never played them himself. He also found travelling with Ingvar to be very interesting because he knew a lot about Swedish history and had interesting things to say about the places they passed. He also told a lot of humorous anecdotes about everyday life. If he wanted to have fun, he would test Leif on the meaning of words from the local older dialects which Leif almost invariably didn't know, prompting Ingvar to ask "Don't they teach you anything in school these days?"
It was only later that Leif learned of the breadth of Ingvar's knowledge of dialects in the Säter region. Between 1954 and 1992 he sent in over 45,000 different examples of dialect words and their meanings to Uppsala archive for regional dialects (UMLA). He also answered numerous questionaires about different aspects of daily life, from farming methods to folk superstitions. He also sent in contributions to UMLA's work of collecting village and place names.
Ingvar was extremely ambitious and stubborn in whatever he undertook. But he was always willing to share in what he collected, either in book form or through courses that he arranged. If he recognized that someone was interested he was very generous in sharing his knowledge. On the other hand, if he felt someone was indifferent, he took offence. He could be frightfully angry and, unfortunately, on more than one occasion misunderstood the situation and quarreled with people unnecessarily. His vehement and stubborn moods were to his detriment and probably contributed to him not getting the recognition he deserved. His somewhat fierce demeanor probably had a deterring effect on people who didn't know him. He was quick of mind and tongue and enjoyed himself most when one met him halfway and he could engage in a little verbal sparring.
Leif writes that when he met up with Ingvar in the early 1990's for the first time in almost three years, he was worried how Ingvar would react to his long absence. Upon seeing Leif and pausing for awhile he said "Jasså, är ä du! Ja känd ent igen dä först. Du ser ju så skäggu å jävlu ut!" ("So, it's you! I didn't recognize you at first. You look so unkempt and terrible!") Leif felt that he could relax, for when Ingvar greeted one in such a manner, you knew he was in a good mood.
Leif's visits to Ingvar were infrequent the next few years. By the fall of 1995, Ingvar was suffering from lots of aches and pains, was totally blind in one eye and barely had vision in the other. During one visit, Leif asked him to play something. In spite of the loss of technique from lack of playing, poor memory and worsening hearing, it was still clear from his playing what an exceptionally fine fiddler he had been. He still had something special in his playing that endowed it with unmistakable authenticity. He had an ability to find the heart of the old tunes, an ability that so few are blessed with. In that moment Leif felt such reverence and respect for the old man. It was the last time he heard him play and one of the last times he got to see him before he died.
New Recordings from Sweden
JONAS KNUTSSON - "Malgomaj" (Atrium)
Jazz/folk blend by saxophone player from Västerbotten.
TRIO PATREKATT - "Adam" (Xource)
Johan Hedin and Markus Svensson play nyckelharpa with cellist Annika Wijnbladh.
VÄSEN - "Världens väsen" (Xource), "Whirled" (Northside). Olov Johansson, Mikkel Marin, and Roger Tallroth have added percussionist André Ferrari.
KLINTETTEN - "Två" (KLCD)
Twelve member band from Östergötland. Includes fiddles, nyckelharpa, accordion, cittra, and song. Very danceable.
KALABRA - (Caprice)
Sextet with jazz saxophonist Amanda Sedgwick and nyckelharpist Markus Svensson.
TILJA - (Amigo)
Nyckelharpist Pernilla Karlsson (Bohuslän), and fiddlers Karin Olsson (Värmland) and Jeanett Walerholt (Småland) play traditional tunes plus new compositions.
FOLK MUSIC IN SWEDEN - "Blod, lik & tårar" (Caprice). 18 singers, including Lena Willemark, Brita and Maria Röjås singing songs from old skillingtryck.
BOCK - "Ingen som jag" (FTG)
Music from a theater work about Hällsingland fiddler From-Olle. The band includes Jonas Olsson, Fredrik Lindh, Lasse Sörlin, Andreas Malmqvist (bass), and Olle Bohm (drums).
PLOMMON - (BGSCD)
Five women from Skåne who sing and play fiddle, pump-organ, flutes, and clarinet. Music from Sweden, Finland, Slovakia, Denmark, Belgium, and Lithuania.
FALU SPELMANSLAG - "I stöten" (Tongång)
Driving, danceable music recorded with dancers.
PERSSON, ÅRFORS, EKLUND - "Bra dansmusik" (SUR). Gammaldans, polskas on fiddle, accordion, bass.
HANS GILLE & KURT SÖRDERGREN - "På vårat vis" (Tongång). Two tradition bearers from Österbybruk in Uppland playing mainly tunes from Ceylon Wallin.
The News from... Norway
translations by Crystal Lokken
Items of interest culled from the pages of Spelemansbladet.
The fourth volume in Slåtter for vanlig fele, a planned six volume work on Norwegian flat fiddle music, was just published by Universitetsforlaget at the end of 1997. Encompassing music from Hedmark (which includes the border towns of Trysil and Engerdal), the book contains 15 halling tunes, 194 pols and springar tunes and 30 marches. The main source of the included tunes are recordings of fiddlers who were already old by the middle of the 1900's. The introduction contains information of the fiddle traditions in Hedmark as well as older playing styles. Earlier releases in this series includes two volume on Oppdal and one volume on Nordfjord.
A recent article (which draws on information in the recently published volume of flat fiddle music from Hedemark mentioned above) explores the history of the Pols dance from Rendal in Hedemark and whether it once was done as a combination of a gangar and a springar type dance. Several references to the gangar in the music and dance history of Rendal have led people to believe that the gangar was once danced in Rendal even though the pols is the bygdedans danced there today.
It is said that the oldest known fiddler in the Rendal district was "Gangarguten" from Mømb in Øvre Rendal. He was most active around 1680, which was also the time that the fiddle became established in the district. It is believed that his name derives from gangar the dance. Also, In Jakob Breda Bull's novel Herr Samuel, we meet a fiddler named Eric Barstad at a dance in Rendalen about 1810. According to him, new dances at that time that had become popular were the "lancers, figaro, and fandango - which no farmers knew - but all had learned the waltz. The pols was old at that time, as well as the gangar - which only the eldest dancers knew." Bull had great knowledge and respect for the old folk culture, so his mention of the gangar was unlikely to be a fantasy.
It is now believed that the Rendal pols as danced in the 1600's was a composite dance with a fore-dance in 2/4 rhythm (gangar type) and an after-dance in 3/4 rhythm (springar type). Eventually the two parts were separated and the gangar part went out of use in the 1700's. the after-dance that was left evolved into the pols that is danced today.
This theory of the evolution of the Rendal pols is in keeping with ideas about the development of polska music and dance in Sweden. The Swedish researcher and fiddler Anders Rosen believes that the Swedish "polska" originally had "a slow fore-dance (introduction) in 2-beat and a livelier after-dance in 3-beat rhythm, but with time, the after-dance dominated." Such a separation had already happened by the mid 1600's in Poland and Sweden. The same thing very likely happened in Norway for one or another form of bygdedans in 3-beat pols rhythm has dominated in all areas where the ordinary (flat) fiddle is played in Norway.
Examples of composite dances can be found in other parts of Norway. The closest, geographically, was the "Brides-dance" from Alvdal from 1918 in which "the bride and bridegroom do a march around the floor before they do the pols." The march had the feeling of a slow halling, with both march and pols building on the same melody. The bride's dance from old times in Urskog shows the same composition, build-up and function. The first part of the dance is "similar to a kind of polonaise." There is a pols with gangar and springdans parts described in the Hadeland district from the end of the 1700's. Also similar is a description of a dance from Krogsherad: "First a short march, then a short springar." In Vest Oppland there is mention of a "gangar," which could be played as a "halling." Perhaps this was originally a "fore-dance?" It is possible that the "springleik" developed from a 2-beat rhythm. Both the melody and the name hints at that.
These examples support Bull's description of a composite 2-part tune and dance form in Rendal. Some of the descriptions describe the first part as a kind of march, where Bull speaks of the gangar. But is the gangar so different from a march? The gangar has been described as a ceremonial start for the wedding dance, when the master of ceremonies and the single men guests danced with the bride.
Does gangar music continue to live in Rendal? There are certain marches from Engerdal, Trysil and Rendal that appear very old and have a danceable feature similar to the halling. You can imagine that these old tunes very likely could have been used for the fore-dance of a 2-part composite dance. So the musical counterpart to the 2-part dance that Bull describes in Herr Samuel is recognizable and is still in use today. Perhaps this has parallels over the entire county? It remains to be seen, and worked on some more.
The munnharp tradition in Telemark died out, possibly having gone out of use because of the popularity of the hardingfele. The same thing happened to several other old instruments, for example the langeleik, seljefløyte, and bukkehorn. Today, however, the munnharp is experiencing a renaissance in the area.
The work of author Rickard Berge has been the main source of information about the history of the munnharpa and other old instruments in Telemark. According to Berge, some of the famous early Telemark munnharpists are: In the l800's, the brothers Gunnar and Gunnliv Myri played the munnharp. Gunnar went to America, so little is known of him. His younger brother Gunnliv, moved to western Norway and married there. He had a son, Johannes Eide, a hardingfele player, who remembered his father, Gunnliv, playing the munnharp while he and his mother sat and listened. But nothing is known about the tunes he played, nor his teachers, nor whether Johannes played his father's tunes on his hardingfele.
Reidar Sevåg tells of his two uncles who played the munnharp. Good Christians, they felt that the munnharp was a less evil instrument than the fiddle! In Tuddal, there was Halvor Torgrimson (b. l830). It was said he played so loud that it could be heard by everyone, though the room was full of dancers. Halvor Mikkelson Rolegheta (d. 1870) was a shoemaker, and an outstanding munnharp player. He played for dances, both springars and gangars. He could put the harp into his mouth and strike it with his tongue. But he was an awful drinker and lived a miserable life.
Not far away in Kilen lived Nils Ellingson who played Myllarguten tunes on his munnharp. Torkil Hellickson Husvolldalen, an itinerant harvester, taught munnharp tunes to Olav Bernos Kvåle, from Tinn, who played them on his hardingfele. The munnharp was a popular instrument in Tinn - many good smiths there, and also in Numedal, made them.
It is possible to trace old munnharps back to the smiths who made them. Niels Bjortuft made hundreds of munnharps and sold them in western Norway. In the Øyfjell museum there are munnharps which were made by Olav Trovatn, who also made lurs. He went to America two times, returning for good in l921, after being gone for 16 years. One of his munnharps is inscribed "Palermo, North Dakota, 1905". Olav Augundson Bakkane (1800-1885) was a smith and a munnharp maker, who made exceptionally fine ones.
There is indeed, good information about the munnharp and even some of the tunes that were played on them in Telemark in the early days. Some of them, in fact, are older than hardingfele tunes.
The oldest known recording of the munnharp in Telemark was made in l937 by Olav Orholte (l865-l944). He was considered a master player in his time though nothing is known about how he learned to play, or about the munnharp he played on.
Through the years different combinations of fiddles and other instruments in ensembles have gone in and out of fashion in Norway. Ensemble playing that included fiddles and drums has been documented as early as l760. Written documents from eastern Norway (Hedmark, Gudbrandsdal, and Hadeland) report such combinations at dances, and at wedding celebrations with fiddlers and drummers leading the procession to and from the church. In western Norway, where pietism was widespread, drums were used only on May l7th, when they played solo performances based on military signals.
The tamburtromme was a 40-cm high drum, with skin stretched on both ends, and lacing in between. These drums were used both on military and civil occasions, both as a musical instrument and as an alarm. There is a privately owned wooden drum from the l600's in existence. This type was used in the military until the l750's. By the end of the 1800's, the combination of drum and fiddle had died out.
Triangles and clarinets are also mentioned as taking part in ensemble playing. The clarinet was first used in the military. Clarinets were made in Meråker and Østerdal. In the l750's, they were played in place of the oboe (early oboes were called hoboer - they were larger and stronger in tone). The clarinet was most popular in Norway from l800-1850. It was played in many rural areas. Hardangar fiddles and clarinets were played in ensembles in Telemark. A fiddle, flute and clarinet made up a little orchestra in Numedal between 1780 and 1798. The traditional bridal march also included the clarinet. It was so important during the 1800's that most prominent musicians on other instruments also played the clarinet.
In Hedmark, north of Oslo, clarinetists were often found in ensembles along with fiddlers and other instruments. In Sølor, Finnskog, (also north of Oslo) the clarinet is named as a folk music instrument along with the lur, bukkehorn, munnharpe and fløyte.
Ensemble playing of fiddle and clarinet is also documented in pictures. A painting on a trunk from Sør Trondelag from the end of the 1700's shows a bridal couple performing a "stump dance" (stabbedans). On one side are the musicians, one with a fiddle, and one with a clarinet-type instrument.
The Trondheim area has had a very rich folk music heritage over the last two hundred years. Towns such as Rorøs, site of the famous copper mines, recruited and supported their own musicians. One such musician, Eric Johannesen Skomager, went to Trondheim to learn to play the organ and classical violin and also learned new dances from the city's musicians.
Detliv Blom (1820-1892), was a well known fiddler and composer who opened a guest house at Heimdal in l859 which became an important meeting place for well known traveling musicians north of Dovre. In the last half of the 1800's, at places like Ilsvikøra and Ilevollen, one could listen or dance to the music of both local and traveling fiddlers, and later on, accordion players. Fishermen and seamen would come there after weeks of grueling work to dance the pols.
Musicians from the Ålen and Rorøs districts would send tunes to composer Martin Andreas Udbye (1829-1889) in Trondheim, to be arranged for fiddle ensembles or for string quartets. In l857, Udbye wrote Norway's first opera, "Fredkulla."
Many rural musicians came to Trondheim for shorter or longer stays. Several became involved as military musicians or in the theatre. They often played for dances in town and in the surrounding area. Many wrote tunes and dance melodies which then became available to musicians in most of Trondelag and the southern part of Helgeland.
Early in the 1900's, Trondheimers encountered many local musicians who played different instruments - accordion, flute, clarinet and drum. In addition, there were also wandering organ grinders, who played barrel organs which were made in the Steinkjerdistrikt and Åfjorden during the last half of the 1800's. There were also well-documented musicians' groups in Mekhus, Lienstrand, and Byneset, near Trondheim.
In 1922, the well-known dance collector, Klara Semb wrote down dances from Namsdalen with the help of dancers in Trondheim's Bondeungdomslaget (Farm Youth Group). The BUL Heimdal and Trondheim spelemannslags have been instrumental in keeping alive the folk music tradition in Trondheim.
New Recordings from Norway
SUSANNE LUNDENG - "Ættesyn" (Kirkelig kulturverksted). Second CD from this fiddler from northern Norway. Together with Morten Huuse on accordion and keyboard.
ARVE MOEN BERGSET - "Religiøse folketonar" (Grappa). Recorded in Oslo cathedral with organist Kåre Nordstoga and fiddler Geir Inge Lotsberg.
CHATEAU NEUF SPELEMANNSLAG - "Tjuvgods" (Grappa). Second recording by 18 member band that includes both acoustic, electric and brass instruments. Fun music.
DET SYNG! - "Ballader på vandring" (Grappa)
Eli Storbrekken, Sinikka Langeland, Halvor Håkanes, Agnes Buen Garnås, and Anne Marit Jacobsen singing acappella or with sälgflöjt and kantele.
GUNNAR STUBSEID & ALE MÖLLER - "Reiseren" (Heilo). Hardingfele playing Stubseid with mandola playing Möller.
LOM SPELEMANNSLAG - "Tonegjerd" (Lily)
Soloists, small and large groups play gammaldans, springleiks, hallings.
KRISTEN BRÅTEN BERG and others - "Frå Senegal till Setesdal" (Grappa). Setesdal singer together with folk musicians from Senegal and Ivory Coast.
Compiled by Wes Ludemann
Here is a listing of some Scandinavian web-sites that I have visited. Although
the list is far from complete, many of the sites give links to other sites.
The preponderance of Swedish sites reflects only my personal interests. If
you have some hot sites you would like to share, email their addresses to
Wes Ludemann <WesBakmes@compuserve.com>, and I'll compile an update
to include in a future issue of the newsletter.
In English and Swedish. This is Henrik Norbeck's home page. There are essays on Swedish folk music, links to Traditional Music in Sweden, Hundreds of Tunes in ABC Format, ABCMUS, an ABC Tune Player/Handler Program, and Some Tunes and Songs (sheet music and lyrics.)
Henrik Norbeck's ABC Tunes:
This site (which can also be reached through a link from the Web Tunebook above) has tunes, information on how to read .abc files correctly, and an ABCMUS .abc player. There are links to The Official ABC Home Page, and to programs for printing sheet music.
Folk Net Sweden:
Created by Olle Paulsson, owner of DRONE Music. Links to 6 record companies.
Musik vid Siljan:
Has English pages. It gives information on Rättvik, Leksand, Folklore, etc. Not yet updated for 1998.
Links to Musik vid Siljan, Falun Folk Music Festival, Leksands Spelmanslag and more. Has a picture and a tune archive.
Mellan Ljungen och Ljusnan:
Lennart Sohlman's well-designed home page with about 50 fiddle tunes from Jämtland, Härjedalen, Dalarna, Finland and Medelpad. Some transcriptions play out on MIDI.
Swedish Information Service:
In English. A one-step guide to Sweden. Links to search engines, fact sheets on Sweden, newspapers and more.
Swedish pages Online:
In Swedish and English. Address book, libraries, municipalities, news, etc.
A newsletter about the internet, IT and media. The newsletter comes out on Wednesdays, and has more web addresses than you'll have time to check out. Invaluable source.
Sverige runt: Virtual Sweden
Museums, communes, etc. Links to many sites.
In Swedish and English. The Swedish book market and libraries in Sweden. Also a link to SUNET, the Swedish University Network (Swedish only).
Museer i Sverige:
Mostly in Swedish, with links to 51 museums and more.
In both Swedish and English. Lots here, including a virtual museum, technical drawings and a list of publications.
A comprehensive guide to 10 categories Swedish cursing with examples of usage and sound clips in wav-format. (I haven't tried the sound.) Explanations in English, Swedish and Dutch.
The Nordic Pages
A subject guide, plus links to sites for Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, The Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Åland Islands.
Danish Folk Music web site:
Transcriptions of Danish traditional folk music. The page has good links to other sites.
Official press releases, maps, news, general information (Moomintrolls, whooping cranes, Jan Sibelius, etc,). Questions can be e-mailed to Virtual Finland.
Most topics are in Finnish, but some, including Finnish Music and Dance, The Finnish Dance Scene, and Finnish Folk Dancing are in English as well. Links to other sites.
Travel in Finland:
In English. Events, Areas Culture, etc. It has a search ability.
Kaustinan Folk Music Festival:
Not yet updated for 1988.
The Smart Door to Iceland:
Links to Iceland, including Santa Claus (and why he lives in Iceland: http://santa.smart.is/:82/santa.html).
Norwegian Online Information Service:
News, events, business, government, tourism, culture and history, maps and links.
Spelemenn i Cyberspace:
The homepage for dance and folk music from Hallingdal, Røros and Nordfjord. Various topics plus links to festivals and kappleiks throughout the north.