Notes from Norway!

Well, actually, the musical notes are from Sweden! But they have been sent in by Bryony Harris, who lives in Norway. Bryony and I were very actively involved in the British folk music revival of the 1970s, and now, in our later lives, have both joined other musical cultures. As well as two great tunes, Bryony has given us some comprehensive notes about them, which I quote below. Here’s the first – Donats glömda polska:


And the second – Johan vals:


Bryony writes:

. . . During lockdown here in Norway I have had plenty of opportunity to learn some new tunes on both fiddle and whistle. Here are a couple of them, from the Swedish tradition. Although they are actually fiddle tunes, I don’t ever feel truly confident playing my fiddle (taken up very late in life) on my own – so you will have to make do with the whistle!

In true Swedish tradition one always introduces a tune naming the fiddler whose playing one has learnt the tune from. I have learnt these 2 tunes from the playing of the excellent Swedish trio, Björnlert Hedin Pekkari who play music from Southern Sweden (look for them on Spotify and Youtube).  They play fiddle and viol d’amore, nyckelharpa and double row melodeon. If you don’t know the nyckelharpa, look it up. It looks like a cross between a fiddle and a crocodile and sounds wonderful.

[Editor: I couldn’t resist putting a picture of a nyckelharpa (courtesy Bengt Nyman from Vaxholm) at the top of this post. It so exactly fits Bryony’s description!]

The first tune is Donats glömda polska, which literally means the Forgotten Donat Polska (the Swedish ‘polska’ is not to be confused with ‘polka’ which is quite different). They have the tune from the notebooks of the Swedish musician and composer, Sven Donat (1755-1815).  Here is a video of Johan Hedin playing this tune on the nyckelharpa and explaining how it got its name . . .

. . . The second tune is called Johan vals (waltz) also from Björnlert Hedin Pekkari. I’m afraid I can’t find anything about it, but it’s another beautiful tune. Here is the waltz played by Pelle Björnlert, Johan Hedin and Erik Pekkari . . .

Many thanks, Bryony, for broadening our horizons! In the past, Ballydehob has had musical visitors from Scandinavia during the annual Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival, which normally takes place in June. Sadly, this year’s festival has had to be cancelled because of the Coronavirus restrictions.

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