|Friday, June 30, 2006
My brother X, currently in "a war zone" as the commander of a medical platoon (cencored due to standard advice from the Norwegian Army, though I would like to point out that it is not Iraq), lent me his car without knowing anything about it... Thanks, X, that's so nice of you!! ;-) It came in particularly handy when I wanted to drive a couple of hundred kilometres into the mountains to experience the Landskappleik, a huge folk music festival and competition. Beitostoelen is best known as a ski resort in the winter, it's on the edge of the mountain range Jotunheimen, "the home of the giants" from Norse mythology.
Heading into the wilderness...
The mountains of Jotunheimen in the background.
Though I felt it was slightly too "organised", like most things in Norway, there were still sporadic "grab-your-fiddle-and-I'll-grab-my-accordion-and-let's-play-something-in-the-bar" scenarios happening all around. The Norwegian expression "heels in the ceiling" describes the athmosphere pretty well... I joined in on my mouth harp a few times, mostly quietly and secretly, trying to learn, trying to copy better harpers.
The not-quite-so-pittoresque centre of Beitostoelen.
Magne Herrefoss provided the music on his harding fiddle for one of the many dances.
Here's an athmospheric sound bite recorded on the balcony outside a hotel with two dances in adjacent halls. You predominantly hear Magne, but also some music from the other hall.
The harding fiddle is an old traditional Norwegian folk instrument, often highly decorated and with two to five extra strings underneath the four strings you would find on a normal violin or fiddle. These two to five strings aren't actually played directly, they simply resonate in harmony with the four upper strings to create a very warm, full, fat sound. I think the general clue to playing Norwegian folk music on a fiddle or a harding fiddle is to play as many strings as you can simultaneously to create "strange" chords! (On the harding fiddle it's actually possible to play up to three strings at the same time...)
The harding fiddle
4 upper and, in this case, 5 lower strings
It didn't take long to convince the gentle giant Magne to give a GMC contribution on his harding fiddle. We walked a couple of hundred metres into the hills, but in the recording you can still hear some cars in the distance. Magne playing the harding fiddle whilst sat on a big log on the hillside and with the mountains of Jotunheimen as the backdrop... the whole thing was a bit surreal, but brilliant!
Getting ready for the recording...
His fiddle wasn't quite tuned to the previous piece, but what the hell - that's just funky! The keys are hopefully (!) going to keep on changing!
...and a little chat.
I couldn't have chosen a better place to try out my tiny tent for the first time... Fresh air, fantastic scenery, peace...
My North Face tent from Ellis Brigham in situ.
The next day, after a meeting with the lovely Gertti (who is now trying to set me up with her family in Estonia!) at Peppes Pizza (eat as much as like for about 9 euros!), I went back to Oslo...
...via Reinli stave church, built around 1250.
The ultimate hypocricy? A close-up of the church's crosses and dragons - one mythology replaced by the mythology of the future.
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Friday, March 24, 2006
Friday, June 30, 2006