Norwegian folk music bowing

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Three albums containing tunes from Meldal and Orkdal

Nominatet for best traditional collection 2012, folkelarm.

"Slåtter" is one of the terms we use for traditional tunes in Norway. It is also the name of a serie of three albums "vol. 1,2 and 3" containing traditional tunes from the fiddler Ragnvald Bolme and from a collection by Peder Wessel. All together 75 tunes. This is music mainly from Meldal and Orkdal Community in Sør-Trøndelag County, and a timeline stretched from late 1700 up till last part of 1900.

This music has been following me since I started learning from Ragnvald in January 1982, but it is now, as a grown up, I finally felt that the time was ready to record the tunes. It has been an exciting process both musically and historically.

The eldest material is tunes for regular fiddle, and the youngest material is tunes for hardanger fiddle.

"Slåtter vol. 1" was released in September 2010, and "Slåtter vol. 2 og 3" in March 2012, both on Etnisk Musikklubb.

This work is a result from 2009 when Sturla Eide was appointed artist of Sør-Trøndelag County. The project was supported by Norsk Kulturråd, Sør-Trøndelag Fylkekommune, MFOs Vederlagsfond, Rff, and Meldal community.
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Peder Wessel (1850-1906)
In the Music Collection of the Norwegian National Library, Oslo, there is a manuscript handwritten note collection (Ms.308/36) entitled ”Norsk nationale Springdandse fra Throndhjems Stift, samlede og udsatte for Pianoforte Aar 1877” [Norwegian National Springdances from Trondheim District, collected and arranged for Pianoforte in the year 1877]. The collection, signed ”Hr. Peder Wessel, Hevne pr. Throndhjem”, represents an important source for insight into the repertoire of rural fiddlers of the 1800s, in communities between Kristiansund and Trondheim.

Fiddler Elling Holstad (1772-1830) of Meldal was one of the main sources for the collection. Wessel’s manuscript contains 16 springleik [“springdance”/springdans/ polskdans/pols] tunes associated with Holstad. Elling, called also Ellein or Erling, was recorded in the 1801 census as Elling Jonsen Holstad, 29 years old, married and residing on the Holstad farm in Meldal, along with his father, “farmer and farm resident” Jon Ellingsen (b.1739) and his father’s wife Marit Arnsdatter (b.1748). Elling’s father married twice, but it is as yet unclear as to which of his wives was Elling’s mother.

Ragnvald Bolme (November 7, 1927 - January 27, 2000)
Ragnvald Bolme was born in Stangvik, Nordmøre in 1927. His father, shoemaker Ole Pedersson Bolme (1875-1952) was from Rindal, and his mother, Elen Edwardsdatter Fætten (b.1896), was from Tustna. When Ragnvald, the youngest son, was three years old, his parents bought the Holum farm located between Vollagranda and Storås in Meldal, and the family settled there. In 1957 Ragnvald took over the farm after his parents.

Sturla Eide (b. 1975)
Sturla Eide was born in Orkdal, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway in 1975. He began playing fiddle at a very early age. When he was about 6-7 years old he came in contact with the Ragnvald Bolme, at Holum in Meldal. In 1982, along with Ingeborg Berge, Sturla began taking music lessons with Bolme, something that was highly motivating for the young fiddler. When word got around that Bolme had two young fiddle students, they were often invited to play at local events. Eide attended his first major competition when he went up on stage and played two tunes for the district fiddle “kappleik” in Vågå in 1983.

Additional background information, by Bjørn Aksdal, is included in the booklet accompanying the "Slåtter vol. 1” album.

In playing here, I have tried to interpret the springleik tunes with an open approach to tempo and style. The melodies vary in nature, and to attempt to perform all in the same style and at the same pace would detract from their individual character. The tunes range from cheerful, energetic melodies to melancholy ones that could almost have been performed rubato. Regarding playing technique, the springleiks range from easy tunes to more demanding ones that involve key signatures with several flats, combinations of major and minor and use of both 2nd and 3rd positions. There are many quick sections involving various intervals, presenting the opportunity for a variety of bowing alternatives. Peder Wessel included technical musical terms that can help us understand his perception of the music when he transcribed it for the piano. This also suggests that Wessel quite clearly perceived the musical variety within the collection.

Ragnvald Bolme’s tunes are definitely dance tunes, but here there is also variety in form and expression. The melodies are less complex than those of the springleiks, but Ragnvald Bolme was a Hardanger fiddle player who used double stops and ornamentation, giving tunes individual character and providing challenges for the fiddler. Subtle details and qualities, perhaps not obvious at first, definitely characterize his style, and are sadly too often omitted when the tunes are taught and passed on. These include frequent use of parallel octaves with vivid trills and his way of ending tunes with a double-stopped third.

My own playing style and musical experience naturally color the way the tunes are performed and I have in no way tried to restrain myself. Some of the tunes are played precisely as written, while others have acquired a good portion of myself.
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Download booklet for "Slåtter vol. 1" as PDF.

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Download booklet for "Slåtter vol. 2 og 3" as PDF.