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Monday, September 2, 2013
Fiddling in Norway Pays Dividends…………!
Local musicians Ruth Keggin and Tom Callister travelled to Norway
recently, with funding from the Manx Heritage Foundation, to exchange fiddle
and vocal music, and to meet Hardanger fiddler Erlend Apneseth and singer
Joining their fellow musicians at Ole Bull Akademiet, situated in Voss
in western Norway, the aim of this visit was to share, explore and arrange
music from both traditions, in an informal setting, providing an opportunity to
learn more about each country’s unique traditional style.
The Ole Bull Akademiet is affiliated with the Grieg Institute at the
University of Bergen, and is one of only three establishments in Norway where
it’s possible to study Norwegian folk music at Bachelor degree level. This was
a return trip for Ruth who had previously visited in 2009 as part of her
research for a BA degree in music.
Erlend is currently one of the top young Hardanger-fiddle players in
Norway and after years performing folk music in competitions and concerts has
begun to explore contemporary and improvisational performance alongside
traditional music. Having received the Grappa debutant award in 2012 Erlend
will be releasing his debut album later this year. Meanwhile, Margit who has
sung since childhood, also dances and plays the Hardanger-fiddle, together with
the langeleik, also closely associated with Norway, and the lyre.
Language wasn’t a barrier as Ruth explained, “Margit began by teaching
me Hallings and Springars – songs which, like the Scottish puirt à beul, are
highly rhythmic, and can be used to accompany dancing. Some of the dance songs
used lyrics while others used meaningless vocables. The act of singing vocables
is called ‘tralling’ and is comparable with Irish lilting, although Norwegians
tend to use more rounded ‘ooh’ sounds, which are produced further forward in
the mouth. The two of us also shared lullabies and songs with common themes,
occasionally weaving both Norwegian and Manx melodies together”.
However, Tom and Erlend soon found that traditional fiddle techniques
from each other’s country were more complex than they imagined, and that from a
Manx perspective the shape of the Norwegian melody was altogether different.
Tom Callister, who has long been revered for his prowess with the
fiddle both on the Isle of Man and beyond these shores, performs with new ‘trad
power trio’ Barrule and is about to release his debut album, whilst Ruth Keggin
represented the Isle of Man at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient during
2012, where she opened the Nuits Interceltiques to packed audiences of up to
12,000 people in the Stade du Moustoir (televised by France 3). She is
currently working on material with a double bassist and guitarist.
It is hoped that Margit and Erlend will be able to visit the Island
later this year to continue work on the project.