Frifot Returns to Bay Area

Frifot, the acclaimed Swedish traditional music trio, will return to the Bay Area in April for two concerts. Last here in September 1999, they played to a sold-out crowd at Berkeley's Freight and Salvage. Per Gudmundson (fiddle, viola, bagpipes, and voice) is one of Sweden's best fiddlers and bagpipers. He is especially known for his poetic interpretation of traditional tunes. Ale Möller (mandola, flutes, harp, hammered dulcimer, harmonica, and voice) is well known for his innovative treatment of Nordic music. Lena Willemark (voice, fiddle, and flute) is a fantastic fiddler and an extremely distinctive singer. See also the review (page 8) of their newly (10/99) released recording.
The concerts are scheduled for the evenings of Saturday, April 15th in Sebastopol at Powerhouse Brewing Co., and Monday, April 17th at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. See the Announcements, page 11, for detailed concert ticket purchasing information. §

MIDSOMMAR - An ancient Swedish festival and a German Maypole - by WesLudemann

This rather ornate pole illustrates several of the maypole components mentioned in the accompanying article. It has a circle suspended from (and encircling) the top of the pole (a possible remnant of fertility rites), and circles suspended from not one, but 2 cross pieces. Most maypoles incorporate only one or at most, 2 of these elements. Many are simple uprights with no extra features. Elaborate poles are more common in the province of Dalarna.

Midsummer may be Swedish, but its best known symbol, the Maypole, was brought from Germany, probably by Hanseatic merchants. It gradually replaced the bonfires celebrating mid-summer in earlier times. Midsummer bonfires are still found in Finland and other eastern Baltic countries. But why a "Maypole" in the middle of June? May, (Swedish maj,) comes from the verb maja, probably of German origin, meaning "to decorate with greenery."
The morning of midsummer day, Swedes decorate their homes, cars, churches, dancing pavilions, and auditoriums with garlands of flowers and leafy branches. Then the Maypole is decorated with greenery and flowers. The pole is raised in the midafternoon; usually there is one in the center of the village square. Once the pole is raised, dancing begins, starting with children's dances in a circle around the pole. These are followed by a dance in a barn, or on a jetty or outdoor pavilion. Individual families might raise their own poles, and of course one is raised at the village gammalgård prior to a night of dancing. The tall pole penetrating the sky is a phallic remnant of pre-Christian tribute to the growing forces of nature. The cross arm may have been added when the Church appropriated the midsummer festival, as they did for so many pagan customs.
Other decorations are added to the cross. Two circular rings just below the arms of the cross are common, as is the diagonal arrow, the symbol of Dalarna, placed above the cross arms.
During our first trip to Sweden we took the train from Stockholm to Mora the day before midsummer. All of the reserved seats had been booked, so we got on the one train to Dalarna with open seating. Open seating was a misnomer, as we had to stand for the entire trip. ? In the vestibule. It was crowded with revelers and baggage. At each stop we all got off, unloaded our baggage, and then reloaded before the train started out. An interesting trip.
We attending two Maypole raisings that day, the first in Utmeland, where a spectacularly tall pole was raised, and the second in the center of Mora, which was followed by children and their mothers dancing around the pole. In the evening our host took us to the Orsa Gammalgård for the dance there. The roads were aswarm with teenage drivers, and the front of each car was decorated with boughs of spruce and birch.
Midsummer celebrates the summer solstice, the time when the sun is at its greatest distance north of the ce-lestial equator, and appears to move neither north or south. This happens about the 21st of June, when the sun enters the sign of Cancer. The Christians, of course, laid claim to the festival, and dedicated the 24th of June to St. John the Baptist. In many countries, midsummer is still celebrated as the Feast of St. John. I have read that the Norwegians and Danes light their Saint Hans fires on June 24th. The summer solstice and/or June 24th can fall in the middle of the work week. Thus, in 1952, the Swedish Midsummer day was defined as the Saturday on or nearest the summer solstice.
The summer solstice was celebrated in pre-Christian times by, for example, the druids of southern England, and the worshipers of the Asa gods in Skåne. Snorri Sturluson's book "Heimskringla" relates that the peasants made sacrifices at midsummer.
The midsummer celebration has long had the character of a fertility festival. ? "Midsommarnatten är inte lång, men det sätter många vaggor i gång," as the old proverb says. ? "The summer night is not long, but it sets many cradles to rocking." The birth rate in Sweden, by the way, is noticeably higher in March and April than in other months. Remnants of fertility rites still exist.
During ancient midsummers the eager girls didn't just stand with both feet on the ground. If they could jump over the sacred place's sun-symbolizing midsummer fire, the Balder's bonfire, they would soon be both married and pregnant. Nowadays most are more cautiously curious about their future. The best way for a girl to find out whom she will marry is for her to pick a bouquet of seven or nine different varieties of flowers, each from a different meadow or ditch, and place it under her pillow. Then she will dream of her groom-to-be. Another way to learn of future events is to eat "dream herring" or "dream porridge" with plenty of salt in it.
According to folk belief, the dew of midsummer night is believed to have special properties. It is extraordinarily healthful for both man and beast. He or she who collects it in a small flask can use it to cure illnesses. On the whole, water was important at midsummer, and to bathe in and drink water from forest springs has been a rite since Viking times. However, the dangerous Näcken must be bound in place by sticking a long knife into the bottom of the spring.
The whole holiday is associated with superstition and magic. According to folk belief the fern blooms (!) at the stroke of midnight on midsummer. If you are lucky enough to see it, the bloom brings luck and happiness. Rain on the morning of midsummer day means that it will continue to rain for forty days.
In short, the woods on midsummer eve are filled with strange spirits, as Shakespeare knew when he wrote "A Midsummer Night's Dream." §

Scandia Camp has room left

Scandia Camp Mendocino still has room left for couples, men and musicians. There is currently a waiting list for women ? if more men sign up, more women will get in. Details may be found in the Announcements, page 10 and in the Calendar Section of this newletter. §

More about Kalevala Epic Poetry
- by Anja Miller
Editor's note - a section of Anja Miller's Kalevala article was inadverdantly omitted from the last issue. Here it is, along with a small section of the article that follows the omitted section.

Kalevala poems have a unique form. This meter, trochaic tetrameter, is a line of eight syllables, occasionally nine or ten. There is no rhyming but lots of sophisticated alliteration. Another distinguishing feature is called a “retardant,” the repetition of an idea first on one line, then the next, in different words; this is useful in the typical narrative situation in order to emphasize each stage in the progression of the story. When Henry Longfellow set out to write his Song of Hiawatha, he made good use of the Kalevala meter and style.
Melodically, Kalevala songs are simple, mostly limited to the five notes of the 5-string kantele. In ancient times, everyone knew how to sing these poems; later only special masters retained them. The songs were as well suited to everyday life as to festive occasions. Anyone who has heard the group Värttinä (translation: Spindle) can recognize the simple basic cadence in their songs. Sari Kaasinen, the group’s leader, researched and retrieved many of their songs from tribal areas away from today’s Finland.
My personal favorite Kalevalaic poetry is a welcoming song, where the host or hostess calls for the door jambs and threshold to give way for the arrival of an honored guest. Even if you don't know the language, the alliteration should be clearly visible.

Kamanat kohottukohot
lakin päästä ottamatta.
Kynnykset alentukohot
kengän kannan koskematta.
Pihtipielet välttyköhöt,
ovet ilman auetkohot
vieraan tullessa tupahan,
astuessa aimo miehen.

Kalevala and Kantele recordings

Here are descriptions of just a few of the many recordings containing music of the Kalevala or played on kantele. Many more examples can be found on the webpages of the companies listed at the end of each review, and in the reference article on page 9.

Folk Voices ? Finnish Folk Song Through the Ages
This chance find, from Tower Records, is one of my favorite new CDs. It presents us with an overview of Finnish vocal folk music from ancient times to modern. The cuts seem to be taken from previously released albums. ( The performers are known artists, but there is no recording information given, so I'm guessing on this.) The singers are some of Finland's finest folk music professionals, and I'd guess that these are some of the best cuts from each. The CD starts with a couple of Kalevalaic songs, and then works its way up to more modern times. It includes love songs, songs sung to polska tunes, a hymn, a magic spell, some extraordinarily beautiful cow calling, and a lullaby, along with the usual songs. Rather than using the often hard to listen to archival recordings of the early days of folk music collecting, the CD contains modern recordings sung in styles appropriate to the times they represent. These provide a good way to get a feel for where the Kalevalaic songs of Värtinä originated.
The groups and individuals represented are: MeNaiset, Heikki Laitinen, Von & Af, Tellu, Meri Tiitola, Tiina Kaaresvirta, & Petri Torpela, Tallari, Erik Siikasaari, Sanna Kurki-Sounio, Pia Rask, Sirkka Moström, and Marianne Maans. It's thoroughly enjoyable listening, and one need not know that it's a history lesson unless one reads the liner notes. These notes are extensive, giving a short overview of Finnish folk music, comments about each tune, and the songs' texts. Liner notes are in both English and Finnish.
ODE 934-2, © 1999, Ondine Inc., email: <>, Web page: <>. This recording was made with the Sibelius Academy Folk Music, Department 26, Webpage: < Yksikot/Kamu>.

Finlande, Musique traditionnelle
The French have begun to take a great interest in Scandinavian music in recent years, and this is just one of many fine Scandinavian recordings being issued on French labels. This also is an overview of Finnish musical styles through the ages, and it features a mixture of field recordings and professional folk musicians. The field recordings may not be polished, but are pleasant listening, with no wavery old voices or hissing scratches. All recordings (both field and professional groups) were made by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE). There are a couple of Kalevaic songs and some tunes played on kantele and jouikko (3-stringed bowed harp, stråkharpa or talharpa in Swedish). The CD continues with its folk music history up to the present day. It's charming to listen to, although not always beautiful. If you have even a little bit of curiousity about Finnish folk music, this would be a good buy. A very nice introduction to Finnish folk music's history and lavish notes on each cut are included in French, English, and Finnish, but unfortunately no lyrics are included.
HM 79 ADD, Ocora, Radio France, 1996, Harmonia mundi s.a.

This CD, issued some time ago, is a re-issue of the old vinyl record Vanha ja uusi kantele (The old and new kantele, SFLP 8578 ©1978) with the addition of a couple of cuts from the collection Lauluja Lapista (Songs of Lapland) from the 1969 album Keskitön auringon lauluja (Songs of the Midnight Sun, SFLP 8500). Both albums are classics, and this re-issue is well worth one's money. The kantele produces a harp-like sound, which can range from quite delicate to driving and aggressive. This CD shows off a variety of playing styles. The kanteles used range from a 5-string kantele strung with horsehair ? as the first kanteles were made ? to modern kanteles with 36 strings. Also used is a kantele with a lever, similar to the levers on harps, which can change the pitch of the strings. This allows accidentals in the music, and even allows for modulation from one key to another. The kantele is closely linked with the Kalevala story, as well as its retelling by storyteller-bards. Musicians are Martti Pokela, Eeva-Leena Sariola, and Matti Kontio.
FACD 018, Finlandia Records.

This is the name of a wildly popular women's folk music group, as well as the name of their first CD, released in 1987. My copy is old, and liner notes are in Finnish. Unfortunately there are no notes describing the history of any of the tunes. The group has taken traditional folk music from the eastern parts of Finland and transformed it for performance. The cuts range from reflective to wildly exuberant. Much of the music and lyrics are Kalevalaic. Their albums, listed below, are great listening.
Värttinä, (First Album) 1987, Finlandia Innovators
Musta Lundu/Black Bird, 1989, Finlandia Innovators
Oi Dai, 1990, Spirit/Polygram SPIRITCD 4 (Finland)
Xenophile GLCD 4014 (US).
Seleniko, 1994, Spirit/Polygram 517 467-2 (Finland)
NorthSide NSD 6022 (US).
Aitara, 1994, Xenophile 4026.
Kokko, 1996, Nonesuch 79429-2.
Vihma, 1998, Wicklow/BMG 09026-63262-2.
Ilmatar, 2000, Wicklow/BMG.
All these may be found on the Digelius webpage: <>, email: <>

Fiddle Tips ? Left Hand and Fingers? by Sarah Kirton

Last time we discussed how to hold the fiddle, and the time before, we discussed bowing. Now we'll put all of that together with the left hand and fingers to create a beter tone. Start with reviewing how to hold the fiddle. Balance it at the collarbone, find the best angle for the fiddle in relation to your body plane and balance the neck end on that basal "lump" at the base of your index finger (see Figure 1). Review holding (actually balancing) the bow, and proper bowing. Then proceed with this next set of steps toward playing well.

A bit of review
Find a place for your left hand on the fiddle neck where your first finger on the D string (E natural) is both in tune and comfortable. Your thumb should be directly across the fiddle neck from your first finger. (see Figure 2). This is "home." Now let's do some checking of hand and finger position. After each check point, recheck "home" for comfort and intonation. If you need to, readjust home's position. The first two check points should be familiar by now.
Point 1. Make sure your lower arm, wrist, and the portion of your hand below your fingers make a straight line when viewed from the left in a mirror. The bathroom's often the best place for this (see Figure 3).
Point 2. The fiddle neck should be resting lightly on the lump at the base index finger knuckle, with a bit of support from the side of your thumb ? probably somewhere around the last thumb joint or a bit above or below. You shouldn't really need to crook any of your thumb knuckles much, but this will depend on your bone structure (see Figures 3 and 4).

Figure 1. Finding the "basal index finger lump" to rest the fiddle on. Place thumb opposite first finger, straight up and down. This also illustrates a worst example of a wide angle between the fiddle neck and the plane of the hand (talked about fairly late in this article).

Figure 2. Nice arched finger position, thumb directly across from first finger.

Figure 3. Beautiful line from palm down through wrist to elbow. Thumb opposite the first finger, sticking up above fingerboard a bit. Whether your thumb extends above depends on your bone structure. Nice arched fingers.

Figure 4. Thumb opposite 1st finger, even with top of fingerboard (see Fig. 3). Fingers hover OK, but could be a lot closer. It’s only required that they not touch the strings! Angle between plane of hand and neck is nice and small here.

Figure 5. What fingers should look like when playing. This thumb is a bit laid back - it should be closer to straight up and down, - this may depend on bone structure. It's sure not opposite the first finger, though, and that's bad. Fingers are beautifully arched & hovering, and arm, wrist, and hand make a fairly straight line. Wrist is a little bit "out," which is the direction to sin in if you feel you need to sin. People with long arms may need to have the back of their wrist slightly "out" like this. Try your best to keep it straight, or only slightly off the straight. The ultimate, unforgivable sin is to lay your palm against the bottom of the neck, so that the angle at the wrist bends in the opposite direction of this player's.

Arched fingers, no fingerprints
This is a new point, and a very important one. Play E natural ? first finger on the D string. Your first finger should be curved over the fingerboard in a nice arch. Actually, all your fingers should approach the string this way when you play (see Figures 4 and 5). Look at the angle of the last (fingernail) section of your finger to the string and fingerboard. This should be close to perpendicular ? from both where you, the player view it, and from the side view you see in the mirror. Use the tip of the finger to press the string against the fingerboard, not the flat fingerpad, where your fingerprint is. We don't want to leave any usable fingerprints on the fingerboard! Besides frustrating any budding detectives amongst us, there are several reasons for this. This gives a much clearer tone than the fingerprint method. Why this is, I'm not sure. Both methods depend on using bone as the hard point of contact. Perhaps there's less finger padding to interfere with the string's vibration with the fingertip method?? Try playing using both approaches, using your best bowing in both cases. There should be a discernable difference in tone quality. (If your fingernails are too long to play on their tips, cut them.)
Actually, if you peer down the fingerboard along the string path while playing with one of your fingers down ? even down hard ? you'll see there's actually an air space between the finger and the string. This may be easier to see with someone else's finger and fiddle. This phenomenon does not negate the fact that you have to press hard enough to get a good tone.
It seems to me that it’s easier to get a good firm pressure on the string with an arched finger and the resulting straight?on approach of finger to string. The architecture of the arch helps to create and hold the pressure, so that I don’t need to do as much work. My arm doesn’t get nearly as tense or tired if I’m careful to maintain a good arched finger and perpendicular approach. It’s the arm muscles that drive the fingers, ? feel your forearm sometime as you move your fingers.
Another reason for using the fingertip method is that the arched finger lets you adjust pitch very quickly and easily. Try this by simply leaning your finger forward (toward you) or back. (i.e., lead with your knuckle, not your fingertip.) Hear the difference in pitch you can make just with this simple motion. With familiarity, pitch adjustment becomes automatic, and requires very little effort. Compare it with the effort needed to create a similar pitch correction using the fingerprint method. Finger placement needs to be just as exact in either method to be in tune, but correction is much easier with the fingertip method. It's also easier to hear how to correct it, since your tone quality will be better. Personally, I think it's easier to play in tune the first time using fingertips. Arched fingers give much finer control over finger placement than the fingerprint method (which often involves locked joints ? and/or the opposite ? the middle finger joint bent about as far as it can bend.)
Now ? about the strength and flexibility of the fingertip position. An arched finger produces a very strong, flexible position without a lot of effort. Think about those old Roman arches ? strong and flexible enough to withstand centuries of weight, stress, earth settling, and other movement. Your fingers should be like this when they're down ? firm and flexible. This position is easy to hold ? letting you stay in tune even when playing double stops (hardingfele players take note), and allowing you to correct pitch quickly and easily. I also suspect it helps prevent repetitive stress syndrome problems. (Point 1 is probably quite important for this reason, too.)

Finding "home"
By now you should have a good idea of where "home" is on the fingerboard. Leave home by moving your hand down (toward the scroll). Most necks widen a bit as they transition into the peg box. Where is "home" along this widening process for you? Now move your hand up the neck a bit to feel its contour there. Practice finding home, concentrating on letting your hand, especially the thumb and "inside" edge of the palm/index finger, remember what home feels like. Several fiddlers I know have a habit of letting their hand slowly slide up the fingerboard toward the bridge as they play, so that every note they play is sharp. (I suspect they aren't holding the fiddle quite right, either.) Be aware that this is a common problem, and nip it in the bud. Run through all the points we've discussed so far each time you try finding home. Make it a habit to do this each time you pick up your fiddle, start playing a tune, or shrug your shoulders in the middle of playing. Soon, these checks will become second nature, as I suspect they are for most fiddlers and violinists. I suspect that the better a fiddler, violinist, or violist is, the more subconsciously aware they are all the time of "home" and these checkpoints.

How hard to press??
We talked last time about pressing just hard enough to get a good tone without strangling the fiddle. Try playing a scale ? very slowly, listening to each note ? using arched fingers which approach the fingerboard perpendicularly. No fingerprints, please. No incipient cramps in the thumb, hand, arm, neck or back, either. Use your best bowing, letting the bow bite gently into the string for the entire long bowstroke. Keep your bow hand, arm, upper arm, shoulder, neck, and back relaxed, too. Compare the tone you get this way with what you get using fingerpads. Then vary the finger pressure to find out how hard you have to press to get a good tone. Don't grip with your hand or thumb. Your fiddle is resting on your index finger lump, remember? (Well, you may need to increase thumb pressure just a little bit, but not much.) The only increase in pressure should be straight down. The aim is to find an optimal point somewhere between strangling and wimpiness. Only you and your ears (or perhaps the ears of some friends) can determine which pressure gets the best results. Revisit this "least necessary pressure check" often. If you're a beginner or are in the middle of a major readjustment in how you're doing things, do it even more often. As you get more comfortable balancing the fiddle, fingering will probably require less effort for the same pressure ? which is great since it takes less of a toll on you.
Pressing straight down helps with at least a couple of things. First, it helps to keep your hand from slipping up or down the fingerboard. And even nicer, pressing straight down helps trap the fiddle between your fingers and the two major supports for the fiddle: your "basal index finger lump" and your collarbone. Pressing straight down stabilizes the fiddle, and the architecture of your nice Roman arch helps maintain (or maybe even create??) the pressure, so you won’t be nearly as tense.

Hovering, waving, and telephone poles
Another invaluable habit, especially when playing quickly, is to let your free fingers hover over the fingerboard as if you were just about to use them. Don't let them wave around in the air or curl up against your palm. A common variant on waving are fingers which stick straight up in a (rather tense) telephone pole imitation. Some fingers stick out at an angle towards the G string ? like a telephone pole that's been in a bad storm. Little fingers are especially good at this telephone pole thing, with first fingers a close runner up. (My own little finger is a real master at t?pole leaning ? I have ongoing discussions with it, some of which are not very nice. If I’ve gotten too careless, the only way I can recover my good habit is to press my little finger against my curved third finger when neither is in use, and glare at it constantly in a threatening manner). Many fiddlers are afflicted with one or several of these finger waving disorders. And many of us teachers carefully move our free fingers out of the line of sight so our students can see which finger we're using to play a note. They unconsciously (or perhaps they think it's what they should do??) copy this finger waving/curling/t?pole bit. DON"T COPY THIS!!! Non?active fingers should hover over the fingerboard, just above the position they would take if they were playing. Keep them nice and curved while hovering (see Figures 4 and 5). If possible, try to prepare ahead by hovering over the next string they'll play on. Keep them as close to the fingerboard as you can without touching any strings. A quarter inch or so, a half inch max, will do nicely. (This is especially valuable when you've got to reach across to the G string ? especially to play that dreaded 3rd finger C#.) Don’t raise you fingers from hovering position to go to another string, just move them laterally. Fast passages will become easier, and your intonation will improve. And no more flying leaps with your fingers to get a note ? you'll already be in position. It also helps disguise mistakes ? getting the correct finger down when you've made a mistake takes so little time that the casual listener might almost miss the mistake!! (I did say almost.) The time it takes for your fingertips to move the inch and a half or more needed from a waving or curled position may not seem like much, but believe me, it can make a huge difference.
Students who complain they can't reach notes on the G string, especially 3rd and 4th fingers, usually are guilty of not hovering. Hovering helps keep the angle of your hand to the neck of the fiddle fairly small (see Figures 1 and 4). If you don't hover, this angle invariably increases, and it is impossible (unless your hands are very large) to reach the G string with the upper fingers without closing this angle by moving the "little finger end" of your hand closer to the neck. This uses muscles I've never been able to find in my own hand, so if I'm not careful to keep a good angle here, I end up "throwing" my finger across to the G string just to be able to get there. Intonation, tone quality, and timing can get thrown out the window during this maneuver. Hovering over at least the A string, if not over the D or G, solves this problem. An aside here: for general playing I've found that hovering over the E string, while better than curling your fingers completely into your palm, is not nearly as good as hovering over the A or D strings. E string hovering also widens the angle of Figures 1 and 4. When you pick up a finger from the E string, move it back over the center of the fingerboard, unless, of course, you're going to put it back down on the E right away (see Figures 4 and 6).

These habits are not necessary to becoming a good player, and we all know fiddlers who are quite good who have one or more of them. But ? all are well worth developing and maintaining. Having any bad habits makes life more difficult.
Review the points below, and work on making them into habits. Some will be fairly easy to maintain, some may give you momentary hissy fits, and some may require lifelong vigilance.
1. The arm, wrist, and hand should make a straight line through to the elbow.
2. Rest the fiddle on your "basal index finger lump," squeeze just barely enough to maintain this position.
3. Remember "home" by feel (and listening); check it constantly as you play.
4. Keep the thumb opposite the first finger, and perpendicular to the neck, even (usually) when you begin to play in positions (more about this in the future).
5. Approach the fingerboard perpendicularly with the finger, using arched fingers and fingertips, not fingerpads. NO FINGERPRINTS.
6. Press "just hard enough" to get a good tone. Press straight down.
7. Keep your fingers hovering over the fingerboard when not in use.
8. Keep the angle shown in Figures 1 and 4 fairly small. This angle will vary for different sized hands. It will also change as you play, especially when you play on the E string.
There will be momentary exeptions to some of these “rules,” some teachers will disagree with me, and some will express themselves differently enough that you won’t realize we agree till some time has passed. Listen well to all your teachers.
Next time we'll look at specific exercises for intonation and tone quality. In the meantime, play scales, arpeggios, and favorite (or problem) tunes slowly, paying attention to intonation, tone quality, exact timing, and all the things we've discussed about holding the fiddle and bow, bowing, and fingering.
Future articles will probably be shorter, now that we've gone over some basics. §

Reviews of some 1999 Releases

This long anticipated album was released last October (1999) shortly after Frifot's visit to the Bay Area. This dynamic and talented trio has created a recording filled with beautifully executed melodies. Most are traditional, but a few are modern, written by the performers themselves. Most are played or sung in a traditional manner, but are framed by more modern introductions and occasionally modern endings. The mood is for the most part reflective but intense. Frifot's musicianship and versatility shine in this gripping album.
Frifot comprises Per Gudmundson (fiddle, octave fiddle, bagpipes, and vocal), Ale Möller (mandola, natural flutes, folk harp, hammered dulcimer, shawm, and vocal) and Lena Willemark (vocal, fiddle, octave fiddle and wooden flute).
ECM1690, ECM Records, Webpage: <www.ecmrecords .com>, Postfach 600 331, 81203 München, Germany.

Ånon Egeland
This recording, released in '99, shows off the talent and versatility of Ånon Egeland, who has specialized in the music of Aust-Agder, south and east of Setesdal. About half the tracks are done solo; on the others Ånon is joined by Swedish violist Mikael Marin (of Väsen fame) and Norway's Leiv Solberg, who here plays octave mandolin and various guitars. This is a gem of a recording which traverses through a wide variety of moods and instruments. Ånon gives us a beautiful, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, occasionally funny view of the music of this (to us) little known region of Norway, along with a couple of side trips into Telemark.
The recording includes gammel dance, springdans (Telespringars), hallings, and instrumental versions of a couple of airs/songs. Ånon plays a small orchestra of instruments here (although not at the same time!): sjøfløyte (a simple recorder), regular violin, hardingfele, munnharpe (jew's harp), seljefløyte (overtone flute, or willow flute), and English guitar. He's a master of all. Liner notes are in Norwegian, but it's easy enough to decipher the important points.
HGD 7136, Heilo Records, Grappa Musikkforlag, email: <>, Webpage: <>.

Lasse Sörlin, Jamtaleiken
Lasse Sörlin, who plays the fiddle music of northwestern Jämtland (among other areas and instruments) has released a fine album of traditional music. His clean, clear playing is reminiscent of the highlands of Jämtland from which most of this music comes. This album is both danceable and good listening. It's also a good model for those of us who aspire to play really well. The intricate tunes really dance their way off the CD and into the room. Most are polskor, along with four waltzes, a snoa, and a hymn. Liner notes about each of the sources are in Swedish. Some of you may remember Lasse from his visit to Scandia Camp Mendocino in the early 90's.
AWCD-30, Tongång, 1999, <>.

Ola Bøe, hardingfelespel frå Vestre Slidre ?
This is a selection of archive recordings of Ola Bøe (1917 ? 1986), one of Valdres' best fiddlers. As the title implies, he was a Vestre Slidre fiddler; most of the fiddlers we hear today, with the exception of Andris Dahle, are Øystre Slidre fiddlers. (Øystre and Vestre Slidre are two areas of northern Valdres. The biggest difference between the two is in repertoire and in a tendency to have a slightly longer second beat in Vestre Slidre. Although we in the US hear much about the Øystre Slidre tradition and its fiddlers, there was a time when Vestre Slidre was the hotbed of Valdres fiddling. The region has tunes of its own, as well as tunes that were traded either to or from the neighboring areas of Vang and Øystre Slidre, ? and played with Vestre Slidre variations.
Ola Bøe moved to Oslo in the thirties, where he continued to play for dance and teach fiddle. (He was one of Harald Røine's teachers.) He is one of the finest representatives of the Vestre Slidre style. Although his playing was considered a bit rough by some, it is finely executed here. For dance, he is said to have often played wildly and roughly, and as if the music had taken him into a trance (which it may have). We can hear echoes of this in several of the tracks. Ola Bøe was considered a dance fiddler to rival Torleiv Bolstad. This recording presents some of the finest examples of his playing. Springar, halling, and lyarlått (listening tunes) are all represented, as are some of the various fiddle tunings used in Valdres. Along with vanlig stille ("ordinary tuning," adae) and låg bas ("low bas," gdae), we find ljøsblått ("light blue," gdad) and even a tune (Den som faan (or styggen) tralla då'n begrov mor si ? "The one the devil tralled when he buried his mother") in the rare and mesmerizing grønt ("green," gdab) tuning. The lydarlått Grihammaren is in an equally unusual tuning (fdae) for Valdres. Many of these tunes will be familiar to some of us from Håkon Asheim's playing. Most of the springars are danceable; all are exceptionally fine listening. Whether you play hardingfele or are just interested, this is a must-have recording.
Liner notes, which offer a general biography and short notes on each tune, are in Norwegian, with a general summary in English. Fiddle tunings for tunes not in vanlig tuning (ordinary tuning, adae) are noted.
HCD7151, 1999, Heilo/Grappa Musikkforlag, email: <>, Webpage: <>. §

Recording Company Addresses
The following are addresses for companies and distributors specializing in Finnish and Norwegian folkmusic. This is hardly all of them. If you have favorites that aren't included here, please drop a note to Sarah Kirton, 330 Sierra Vista #1, Mt. View, CA 94043, email: <sekirton@>. I plan to run Swedish sources in the summer issue, so if you want, send me those, too.
The first few addresses are webpages with links to many recording companies. Some have ordering facilities of their own.
Note that Heilo is a part of Grappa Musikkforlag AS.

Norsk Ltd., 770 Linden Ave., Boulder, CO 80304; Tel: (303) 442?6452; email:<>; webpage:<www.csd. net/~sodaling/>
NorthSide Records: Address: 530 North 3rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401, USA; webpage: <www.>

Digelius <> fantastic resource; links to record companies throughout north, eg Greenland, Iceland, and the Baltic countries.
FolknettNorway <>

Warner Records - <>
Finlandia Records: < /home.html>
Nonesuch Records: <>
Harmonia Mundi: <>
Ocora Radio France: < /Labels/>
Ondine Inc., email: <>, webpage: <>
ECM Records: <>

Buen Kulturverkstad: Address: N-3697 Tuddal, Norway; Tel. and fax: (011 47) 3502 4015; email:<musikkop@>

DAT O/S (a Sami record company) Address: P.b. 31, N-9520 Guovdageaidnu, Norway; Tel:(011 47) 7848 6772; (011 47) 7848 6788; email: <>; webpage: <>

Grappa Musikkforlag as: Address: Akersgata 7, N-0158 Oslo, Norway; Tel: (011 47) 2335 8000; Fax: (011 ) 2335 8001; email: <>; webpage: <www.grap>

Heilo records ? see Grappa.

IDUT (Sami recordings, including Christmas and children's materials): Address: Iggaldas, N9710 Indre Billefjord, Norway; Tel: (011 47) 7846 4749: Fax: (011 47) 7846 4767

Kirkelig Kulturverksted (all types of folk, not just connected with the church, as the name might imply): Address: P.b. 3204 Elisenberg, N-0208 Oslo, Norway; Tel:(011 47) 2243 0060; Fax: (011 47) 2243 6140; email <>; webpage: <>

Lærdal Musikkproduksjon founded 1994 ? mostly music of Sogn and Fjordane; Address: Lærdal Musikkproduksjon, N-5745 Aurland, Norway; Tel: (011 47) 5763 3656; Fax: (011 47) 57 63 32 80; email: <>

Major Studio: Address: P.b. 5949 Majorstua, N-0308 Oslo, Norway; Tel: (011 47) 2246 2299; Fax: (011 47) 2260 0789; email: <>; webpage: <home.sol .no/~majorst/>

NOR-CD (specializes in Norwegian music and jazz): Address: Kongens gate 16, N-0153 Oslo, Norway; Tel: (011 47) 2233 4144; Fax: (011 47) 2233 4143; email: <>; webpage: <>

Sylvartun (music of Setesdal): Address: N-4692 Rysstad, Norway; Tel: (011 47) 3793 6306; Fax: (011 47) 3793 6305; email: <> §

Norway Day brings storyteller, Hallingdal folk to San Francisco

Mark your calendars for San Francisco's Norway Day Festival the weekend of May 5th and 6th this year. The annual event, at Fort Mason Center's Festival Pavillion, brings us Sissel (Flatland) Rudningen and Hilde Kirkeboen from Hallingdal, and storyteller Judith Simundson from the US.
Sissel and Hilde are both fine fiddlers and dancers in the Hallingdal tradition. Sissel, born in Hemsedal, Norway in 1970, began dancing at age 7. Hilde, 27, is also from Hallingdal. She began playing hardingfele when she was 10. She now lives in Oslo, where she plays for dancers at the Hallingdal club. Both learned to dance from older dancers in the region.
Storyteller Judith Simundson is also featured on the Norway Day program. She is a teller of Norwegian folktales and a singer in the old Norwegian style, called kveding. Simundson teaches through artist residencies in the US.
Doors open at 10 am each day; closing time Saturday is at 6 pm, and on Sunday is at 5 pm. Cost is $10/adult, $7/senior or student, children 12 and under are free. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the MS Society of Northern California. For more information, see the Norway Day webpage: <>, or call their message phone at (925) 074?9071.

Hallingspringar Workshop and Dance

Nordahl Grieg Leikarring is sponsoring a hallingspringar dance workshop taught by Sissel (Flatland) Rudningen and Hilde Kirkeboen. Karin Løberg Code will be on hand to play fiddle. The workshop will be at the Mt. View Masonic Lodge, 890 Church Street (at Franklin), in Mt. View. Teaching will begin at 7:30 pm and end at 10 pm. Dancing will continue as long as folks have energy. The workshop is open to all. There is no workshop fee, but participants are asked to give a donation to help defray expenses. §

Special Event Announcements

Year-long Nyckelharpa Course
Eric Sahlström Institute, Tobo, Uppland, Sweden
Väddö Folkhögskola
Jalle Hjalmarsson, ESI, Eriksgatan 3, S-748 50 Tobo, Sweden, Tel: (011 46) 295 342 93; Fax: (011 46) 295 342 99;
email: <>;
webpage: <>

Scandia Camp Mendocino
June 9 - 16, 2000
in the Redwoods, near Mendocino, CA

Coming from Småland, Sweden, teaching Slängpolska
Magnus Gustafsson, Ulrika Gunnarsson and a crew of dancers, with
Toste Länne
teaching fiddle and playing for dance

From Vågå, Gudbrandsdal, Norway,
Ivar Odnes teaching fiddle and playing for Springleik
taught by our own Roo Lester and Nobi Kurotori

Staff also includes:
Bruce Sagan teaching nyckelharpa,
Loretta Kelley & Sarah Kirton teaching hardingfele
Fred Bialy & Sarah Kirton leading review sessions
Peter Michaelsen leading allspel.

For more information:
see webpage at <>
or write:
Scandia Camp Mendocino, 393 Gravatt Drive, Berkeley, CA 94705;
email: <>
phone: (510) 841-7428 (Pacific time)
more addresses and phone numbers in calendar section of this issue

Frifot Returns -

Per Gudmundson, Ale Möller
and Lena Willemark

in Concert

April 17th at 8:00 pm
Freight & Salvage
1111 Addison Street,
Berkeley, CA 94702

$15.50 in advance
$16.50 at the door

To get tickets:
Send check made out to Freight & Salvage
10 days in advance, include SASE
OR purchase at F&S Box office, 1111 Addison,
Berkeley, Mon - Sat, 1 - 6 pm
OR purchase via Webpage at
<>, connect
via link to TicketWeb. (TicketWeb’s
phone: (510) 601-TWEB
OR Through BASS outlets

Information about Frifot is available at:
<> and

Väsen on Prairie Home Companion
Väsen will appear at the N.Y. Town Hall with Garrison Keillor on “A Prairie Home Companion”
Saturday, April 22,
For local airtimes,
check <>

they just keep going and going and going

with another concert
Saturday, April 15 at 8:30 pm in Sebastapol

Powerhouse Brewing Co.
286 Petaluma Ave., Sebastapol

Tickets: $15:50 in advance
$16:50 at the door
Call Sebastopol Com. Center, (707) 823-1511, (Mon - Fri, 9 am - 7 pm) or Cumulus Productions (707) 829-7067

Separate dinner reservations may be made at the Powerhouse Brewing Co.
(707) 829-9171.
Concert room doors open 20 - 30 minutes before the concert begins

online Hardingfele discussion groups
are now being offered by the HFAA

for fiddle builders: FELEBYGGER-L
for fiddle players: HARDINGFELE-L
for dancers: BYGDEDANS-L

subscribe through the HFAA webpage:

Hardanger Fiddle Association of America’s
Annual Meeting and Workshops
August 17 ? 20, 2000
Folklore Village, near Dodgeville, WI

Hardingfele Players
Håkon Høgemo, Øvre Årdal in Sogn
teaching tunes of Sogn, Voss, & Hardanger
Vidar Lande, Setesdal,
teaching tunes of Setesdal

Leikny Aasen & Vidar Underseth
Ålesund, Norway
teaching dances from Sognefjord & Nordfjord

Also coming from Norway
Jan Petter Blom
fiddler and all-round folk music and dance expert
Bjørn Aksdal
expert in older folk instruments
Olav Vindal & Sigvald Rørlien
hardingfele makers

and American teachers
Bill Boyd & Sarah Kirton, hardingfele
Ron Poast, hardingfele construction

Program includes:
classes and private lessons on Thursday
Hardingfele & Flat Fiddle Classes,
Hardingfele Construction & Dance Workshop
HFAA Annual Meeting (Saturday only)
Banquet, Concert, and Dance Parties
Post-workshop problem solving sessions for dancers and fiddlers

more info & reg. form on the HFAA Web Site:
or send a SASE to: HFAA
Annual Meeting Registration
PO Box 23046, Richfield, MN 55423-0046
email: <>

Santa Cruz Area
Swedish Language Class

Those interested in a Swedish language class should contact Maxine Miller at (831) 464-3310. She’s trying to determine if there’s enough interest in the Santa Cruz area to begin a class.

Nyckelharpa Workshop
with Olov Johansson
in Portland, Oregon, April 15, 2000 from 1 - 3 pm
The workshop will focus on technique
Workshop fee: $20

in the “Old Library Room”
upstairs at Norse Hall, 111 N.E. 11th Ave.
Portland, Oregon

Contact: David Elliker-Vågsberg
84890 S. Willamette St.
Eugene, OR 97405-9500
Tel: (541) 485-4188 Fax: (603) 719-0855
email: <>
for housing arrangements, contact David (above) or email <>

Sponsored in part by the ANA

Hallingdal Music and Dance
April 28 - 30, 2000
at Folklore Village,
3210 Cty Hwy BB,Dodgeville, WI 53533

Sissel (Flatland) Rudningen and Knut Skindo
teaching dance

Hilde Kirkeboen
playing fiddle and teaching at all fiddling levels

Fees: $110 before Apr. 7, $120 if later
for information:
call Folklore Village at (608) 924-4000

email: <>
webpage: <>


there may yet be room in the fiddle courses at
Springdans Northwest 2000.

April 28 - 30, near Seattle WA.
Fiddle teachers are Thomas Westling from Hälsingland in Sweden, and Marit Larsen, from Østerdal, in Norway.

For info, see Webpage at:

American Scandinavian Music Sites:

The Northern California Spelmanslag:<>

Nordahl Grieg Leikarring & Spelemannslag<>

The American Nyckelharpa Association:<>

Bruce Sagan’s Scandinavian Web Site:<>

The Hardangar Fiddle Association of America<>

The Skandia Folkdance Society (Seattle):<>


About the Calendar

A (somewhat) more detailed and up-to-date calendar can be found on the NCS Webpage at <>.

Web and Newsletter calendar submissions should be sent to Jim Little at 321 McKendry, Menlo Park, CA, 94025, email: <>, phone: (650) 323-2256 or Sarah Kirton at 330 Sierra Vista Ave. #1, Mt. View, CA, 94043, email: <>, phone: (650) 968-3126. Suggestions for what to include in a calendar submission are found below and will eventually be on our web page. The web page calendar is updated when new material is received. §


Submission of Newsletter and Web Page Calendar Items

The following are suggestions for those submitting calendar items for publication in the Newsletter or on the NCS Web Page. In general, the web page may contain more details than the newsletter, because of space/mailing weight considerations. For those without email - no, we're not putting less in the newsletter calendar, we're just expanding it on the web page. (Jim and Sarah’s addresses can be found above.)

1) if we ask for a contact method, always include a phone number, not everyone has email.
2) time & place of the event.
3) location of event, directions to get there if needed, or how to obtain directions (who to phone, email, etc).
4) cost of event - we haven't always been including this, we hope to begin to.
5) special schedules around holidays, summertime, etc.
6) tell us if there’s a change in time (or location, price, etc) - for two reasons - so that we don’t say - “oh yes, that’s the same group as before” and miss changing the time, and so we can put in in bold to alert our readers to a change.
7) registration deadline, where to get registration forms, etc, if applicable.
8) if it's a special event, include a brief description, or a even a paragraph we could publish if the timing's right and space allows. Our primary emphasis is folk music and dance, but paragraphs (or very occasionally whole stories!) on other Scandinavian cultural events are more than welcome depending on space and timing. (see below for publication schedule)
9) contact people for info for those reading calendar (eg, phone #, address, regularly read email - if you read it only every 2-4 days, warn folks, if only once every week or so - probably best to forget it!)
10) Contact people for we who create the calendar - you can specify not to publish this particular information - it's just for us to check to see that our info is ok or if you want to update anything when the next publication date rolls around. Again - specify phone #, email, etc.
11) Any other pertinent information.

We hope to publish on the following rough schedule:
Vol. 11, No. 2 early or mid June 2000.
Vol. 11, No. 3 late August, very early September 2000
Vol. 11, No. 4 Thanksgiving - early December 2000
Vol. 12, No. 1 late February - early March 2001 §

Activities of Northern California Spelmanslag Member Groups in 1999 Fiscal Year

MPSD:Mid-Peninsula Scandinavian Dancers
NGS: Nordahl Grieg Spelemannslag
NCS: Northern California Spelmanslag
NF: Nordic Footnotes
NGL: Nordahl Grieg Leikarring
SCD: Scandiadans

Weekly Open Sessions for Fiddlers, Monday Evenings in El Cerrito, organized by NCS/Fred Bialy
Weekly Nordahl Grieg Leikarring, Beginning Nor. dance class/performing group mtgs, Weds & 4th Suns, organized by NGL/Mikkel Thompson
Weekly Scandiadans, Scandinavian Dance Class at the Nature Friends' Lodge, Oakland, organized by SCD/ Frank & Jane Tripi
Weekly Scandinavian Fiddle Class, Friday evenings on the Peninsula, organized by NF/Sarah Kirton
Bi-Weekly Mid-Peninsula Scandinavian Dance, Friday evenings thru May, in Atherton, organized by MPSD/Jim Little & Linda Persson

10/24/98 Octoberfest, Germania Hall, San Jose, CA - NGL performance
11/8/98 Social Event , Salem Lutheran Home, Oakland, CA - NGL performance
11/13-15/98 Camp Norge Folkedans Stevne, Alta, CA - Dance & music workshops - organized by NGL & NGS
11/21/98 Mini-Workshop for fiddlers, Mountian View, CA - arranged by NF/NCS
12/4/98 Lutefisk Dinner, Nordahl Grieg Lodge Nordahl Hall, Los Gatos, CA - NGL performance
12/5/98 Lutefisk Dinner, Nordahl Grieg Lodge Nordahl Hall, Los Gatos, CA - NGL performance
12/12/98 Christmas Smorgaasbord, Hope Lutheran Church, Santa Clara, CA - NGL performance
12/19/98 Christmas Luncheon, Daughters of Norway, Grace Lutheran Church, San Jose - NGL performance
1/8/99 Installation of Officers, Nordahl Grieg Lodge, Los Gatos, CA - NGL performance
1/16/99 Dance with guest fiddler Loretta Kelley, Palo Alto, CA - arranged/sponsored by NCS/NF
1/23/99 SF Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions, S. F. State University, S. F., CA - NGL performance
2/27/99 Nordahl Grieg Lodge Anniversary Dinner, Los Gatos, CA - NGS performance
3/20/99 Mini-Workshop for fiddlers, Menlo Park, CA - arranged by NF/NCS
4/9-11/99 Camp Norge Folkedans Stevne, Alta, CA - Dance & music workshops - organized by NGL & NGS
4/17/99 International Spring Festival, UCB International House, UC Berkeley, Berkeley - NGL performance
4/25/99 Blossom Festival, Folkdance Federation of Ca, City College of San Francisco - NGL performance
5/1, 2/99 Norway Day Festival, Norway Day Festival, Fort Mason, San Francisco - NGL & NGS performances
5/7/99 Exploration Day, Sunol Glen School, Sunol, CA - NGL performance
5/15/99 17th of May Celebration ,Nordahl Grieg Lodge, Los Gatos, CA - NGL performance
5/17/99 17th of May Celebration, Salem Lutheran Home, Oakland, CA - NGL performance
5/17/99 17th of May Celebration, Norwegian Seaman’s Church, San Francisco, CA - NGL performance
5/21/99 Multicultural Fair, Springer Elementary School, Mountain View, CA - NGL performance
5/21/99 17th of May Celebration, Vigeland Lodge, Redwood City, CA - NGL performance
5/23/99 Norway’s Constitution Day, Norwegian National League, Golden Gate Park, SF, CA - NGL performance
5/31/99 Mount Cross Annual BBQ, Mount Cross Lutheran Camp, Felton, CA - NGL performance
6/5/99 Sylte-Hansen Wedding, Palo Alto, CA - NGL & NGS performances
6/12/99 Midsummer Festival, Valhalla Scandinavian Lodge, Mount Cross, Felton, CA- NGL & NGS performances
6/26/99 Midsummer Celebration, International Club, Rossmoor, Walnut Cr., CA
8/8/99 Wally Peterson Memorial Service, Sveadal, CA - NGS performance
9/5/99 Norsk Musikfest at Henrik Ibsen Park, CA, NGS
9/18/99 Viking Faire, Valhalla Scand Lodge, Santa Cruz, CA - NGL performance
9/24, 25, 26/99 Scandia Fest, Scandia Fest Comm, Turlock, CA - NGL & NGS performances