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Thread: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Hi all. I recently received my Northwest-influenced Hardanger Fiddle:

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    This is a 10 stringer, with the top strings tuned C-G-D-A-E. I've joined the HFAA and downloaded their Sampsel Tune Book - nothing from it really grabs me (yet). I'm new to Nordic music, so currently I play mostly Irish and Scottish tunes on it. I'm looking for suggestions for haunting, eerie minor key tunes that really make use of drones and the sympathetic understrings. Any ideas? I'm a pretty good sight-reader but also like to learn by ear. Thanks!
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  3. #2

    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Hi. This Hardanger fiddle/viola looks very interesting. If you take a look at the Youtube channel Ernst's Early Music Project, he plays a variety of music on a Hardanger fiddle (and many other instruments as well). Also, Inna Larsen has a site with quite a few transcriptions of tunes, some of which are played in GDAE tuning.

    If you are interested in Swedish tunes, take a look at Farmor's Brudpolska (there are a lot of transcriptions available online if you search and a great video on Youtube of a duet of the tune on baroque violins). I have a book from Schott publishing called Scandinavian Fiddle Tunes that has a good variety of mostly Swedish tunes.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    I'm excited for you, I always thought they were pretty neat but my bowed instrument skills are very lacking as far as venturing into that area myself. I believe some of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack includes Hardanger fiddle, namely some of pieces played when they are in Rohan; some good hauntingly eerie parts there.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    If I had (and could play) a Hardanger fiddle, I think I would be compelled to learn the opening theme to "Fargo" (the movie). Wikie says "the score to Fargo is by Carter Burwell. The main musical motif is based on a Norwegian folk song called "The Lost Sheep", or natively "Den bortkomne sauen"."

    Here's the soundtrack version, which I think is played on Hardanger? It's probably a popular enough tune that there's sheet music out for it somewhere:



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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    Hi all. I recently received my Northwest-influenced Hardanger Fiddle:

    ... I've joined the HFAA and downloaded their Sampsel Tune Book - nothing from it really grabs me (yet). I'm new to Nordic music, so currently I play mostly Irish and Scottish tunes on it. I'm looking for suggestions for haunting, eerie minor key tunes that really make use of drones and the sympathetic understrings. Any ideas? ...
    Perhaps listen to a whole bunch of Norwegian CDs and make a list of tunes you'd like to learn?

  8. #6

    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    I still play a tune or two (on std fiddle) I remember from when I was playing trad with an elder norwegian player. I'll see if I can dig out the names. Also some of those tunes from vaasen sounded good on h. fdl.

    He always used to say that some of the cajun stuff I played reminded him a lot of some of his trad stuff - I think much of the droning, rather than the particular meter (mostly 2-step, waltz,..), was what he liked, so if you're into cajun fdl. maybe try some of those.

    Congrats!

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Start your istening with Annbjørg Lien!




    played at a slow tempo for demonstration and then up to speed. This tune is on the "Felefeber" CD (Shanachie)


    Annbjorg used to play in the group Bukkene Bruse. This tune is on the album The Stone Chair on Northside (US). One of the tunes I play on flute.

    More progressive is one of my favorite Lien CDs, Prisme (also on Northside.)

    Some of the hard-core oldtime hardingfele players can be confusing to listen to, especially if Nordic music is new to you. I would strongly suggest starting with the three CDs I've mentioned. They're all great and the tunes won't leave you wondering where the tune is. Plenty of her stuff on YouTube to sample.

    Niles H

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes


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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    Hi all. I recently received my Northwest-influenced Hardanger Fiddle
    Interesting... that looks pretty deep even for a viola. The proportions looks like a viol. I wonder how the sound compares to a more standard hardingfele.

    I find Norwegian music much more difficult to learn in general than, say, Swedish. I also think there are subtle quarter-tones often played tho I am no expert. I did participate in a few workshops many years ago but never really owned a a real hardanger fiddle.

    What find of strings is your strung with? IIRC the strings on the ones I played were thinner than standard violin strings.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Hey that is cool. Do you play vertically like a viol, or in the crook of your arm? Truly medieval, I like.

    I love all the brooding resonance of hardingfele. But you can also take those basic reinlanders, polskas shotises and pactice ornamentation. Even a simple tune comes to life with the right approach. Upbeat tunes (like alegrias) are great too - after all it is a dance accompanying instrument too. As with any palo, genre or form - nuance, ornamentation, phrasing, vernacular.. can be developed on simple tunes.

    You might get to improvising some to bring out what you're immediately seeking. I find that big, resonant instruments inherently enable and promote paths in extemporized playing - especially the solo idioms like trad hdgfl does. I'm quite fond of it. Take the meter, develop ornamentation, adapt some trad folk tune, express. They don't don't let it into the church for nothing!

  16. #11
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Hi Jim - yes it is a deeper body than most. The sides are 2-3/4" deep, a full inch more than my standard violas. Just like when I was a motorhead in high school, I find "there's no replacement for displacement"when it comes to getting that deep tone. The body style is more like a viola d'amore, which the builder suggested. I figured why not, I already have four other fiddles in the classic cremonese style. Body length is about 16.5", and she's about 9.5" across the lower bout. The fingerboard is approx. 1-1/4" wide at the nut, compared to 1" to 1-1/16" on my other violas. Much better for 5 courses. I use D'addario helicore long scale viola strings. They make an E which will work on the big guns.

    Although there are many hardanger tunings, the one based on "standard" violin tuning is normally tuned a whole step up (except the G string which is a B now). So low to high would be B, E, B, F#. Since traditional hardingfele are also more lightly built the strings are lighter than standard violin strings. I usually play with other people and opted for standard tuning. As a result of my choice of a big deep sound box, western redcedar top, Pac NW theme and different body shape, my instrument really bears only a passing resemblance to a traditional Norwegian hardanger. But it is just what I wanted and sounds beautiful.

    Cat - I play her tucked under my chin as God intended, but with the dimensions listed above she is a handful. Aside from playing regular tunes, scales etc. to learn my way around on this instrument, I noodle a lot, switching songs I know to minor keys, playing with drones, etc. to explore sounds. I'm not a composer though - I'm certain everything I come up with is a derivative of something or many things I've heard/played before.

    Edit: I went with perfection pegs and they are really all that! I can't imagine a 10 stringed fiddle without them!

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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Much medieval era music would be suitable for hdgfl, or perhaps appropriate pieces, passages, motifs to apply to hdgfl. I find much inspiration from the Savall ensembles, for example. https://youtu.be/aZMsKgB3FHM

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    Hi Jim - yes it is a deeper body than most. The sides are 2-3/4" deep, a full inch more than my standard violas. Just like when I was a motorhead in high school, I find "there's no replacement for displacement"when it comes to getting that deep tone. The body style is more like a viola d'amore, which the builder suggested. I figured why not, I already have four other fiddles in the classic cremonese style. Body length is about 16.5", and she's about 9.5" across the lower bout. The fingerboard is approx. 1-1/4" wide at the nut, compared to 1" to 1-1/16" on my other violas. Much better for 5 courses. I use D'addario helicore long scale viola strings. They make an E which will work on the big guns.

    Edit: I went with perfection pegs and they are really all that! I can't imagine a 10 stringed fiddle without them!
    Interesting. Any chance you could post some sound files? Who is the builder? Is there any reason to not disclose that? Do you have some larger photos? I have a 5 string viola and have (I think) Dominants on it but not sure what the E string is. Is that E for a violin?

    Oh, and what do you tune the sympathetic strings to? Same as the melody strings?

    I have Perfection pegs on my main fiddle and love them.
    Jim

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Any chance you could post some sound files?
    All I have for doing so is my iPhone but I plan on putting up something soon. Currently working 12 hr nights so it'll be a little while....


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Who is the builder? Is there any reason to not disclose that? Do you have some larger photos?
    Tom Jessen is the builder - you can find him at Cricket Fiddle. I'm a very big fan of his - I have an F5 mando, A4 10 string 'dola, F4 OM and 10 string F4 'cello all built by TJ, in addition to this Hardanger Fiddle. We have a social group for fans of his instruments here too. He is also on Facebook, where you can follow pics of the entire build if you like.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I have a 5 string viola and have (I think) Dominants on it but not sure what the E string is. Is that E for a violin?
    The D'addario helicore E is made for long scale violas. It probably would have too low a tension on a full scale violin. I use the same strings on my self-modified 5-string viola.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Oh, and what do you tune the sympathetic strings to? Same as the melody strings?
    I didn't follow usual hardingfele convention here either. I wanted to use tones that are in the scale for the majority of keys I play the most in (A, C, D, G). I also wanted to work with the understrings Tom installed without too much or too little tension. So low to high I tuned them G-B-D'-E'-A'. So obviously G natural is not found in the A major scale, but it seems to work fine.
    Last edited by Mandobart; Oct-16-2017 at 4:51pm. Reason: tried to fix links

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    I’m not sure where in my wanderings I came across BlueRoseMusic website, there’s a fairly high liklihood it was on the cafe here, but there is an excellent collection of tunes on there that would be worth a rummage for you. It even includes the tune Den bortkomne sauen mentioned above by Foldedpath. The tunes on there are very elegantly and clearly presented which I like a lot. Anyway a great rabbit hole to wander down.
    Eoin



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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Well I've been cut off from YouTube now, so I can't upload any videos of my fiddle. Whenever I try to log in to YouTube it takes me to the IT department at my daughter's college. No videos from me in the foreseeable future, as she won't be back until Thanksgiving...

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Okay this just in, I may have found a way to post straight from my phone. We'll see if this works:



    Of course there are some clams in there but it will give you an idea of the sound. I actually start playing about two minutes in.

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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    This nyckelharpa tune is pretty simple and (I think) is in C minor so it might work well for your hardanger-iola:

    Jim

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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    How are you coming with finding tunes to your liking? I found my cd of 'Women of the North' https://www.discogs.com/Various-Wiza...elease/7636577
    which has some really nice selections. Two of my favorites are waltzes that aren't terribly difficult, if you have some technique down: Havella/Old Squaw by Susanne Lendeng, and Ferdavals/Voyage Waltz by Mari Eggen; the first is duet with double bass, the latter with kantele..

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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    This instrument doesn´t quite look like a traditional Hardingfele, but the sound is quite good! I live in the western part of Norway, with my roots in Telemark, and I know several players of the instrument. The instrument usually have 4 strings on the top and 4-5 under it. Most of the music is composed in major-like keys, but much of the traditional norwegian music does fit into the minor/major pattern. When I asked one of the greatest players about this, he answered that the instrument simply wasn´t ment for minor keys.

    The swedish Nyckelharpa has some of the same sound, but is a very different instrument when comes to playing. The music is much softer, gentler, mixed between minor and major keys. The norwegian music is usually wild, bold, like the nature in this part of the country.

    In my local library there is a collection of several thousand pieces for the instrument, many very hard to play indeed. The greatest historical player was Myllarguten, from Telemark, that even outplayed Norway´s "Paganini", Ole Bull.

    The instrument is indeed alive in Norway with an unbroken chain of players back to the 17th century. Some of the old fiddles are playable today - just listen to this!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8mvq3HejzE

    Thank you all for the interest in the Norwegian national instrument. Good luck!

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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    I'm still on the hunt for my instrument, and when I get it I'm going to play it in a cave just up the hill from me. I've been wanting to haul my harps up there, but...

    The modes and harmonies of the tunes, and the solo form, is what appeals to me. I really like crooked, jagged tunes, and the heavy syncopation - I can't get away from dance tunes even though I'm not playing for dances these days. The combination of the plaintive resonance, with the beautiful melodies, yields an evocative music.

  36. #23
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post

    Annbjorg used to play in the group Bukkene Bruse. This tune is on the album The Stone Chair on Northside (US). One of the tunes I play on flute.
    Thanks for the heads-up on this album (Steinstolen = The Stone Chair). There is lots of hardingfele on it, but I suspect this Numedalshalling track is not a typical example for that since it features a nyckelharpa (recognizable by the church-like reverb, the straight intonation and the klicking noises).
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    I forgot to mention a great collection of Scandi tunes arranged for fiddle which I bought when first exploring this genre.
    It’s arranged as melody & harmony with chord suggestions, so good for playing with friends too.

    It’s imaginatively titled “Scandinavian Fiddle Tunes” by Vicki Swan & has 73 tunes and a CD. https://uk.schott-music.com/shop/sca...-no316184.html ( It’s often discounted on places like Amazon etc) She’s actually why I started rummaging these tunes in the first place. I heard her & Johnny play locally & had a chat about her nyckleharpa & pipes & got inspired to explore more.

    Especially with the Norwegian stuff I just love the slippery rhythms and interesting keys & tunings on fiddle or mandolin.
    Eoin



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  39. #25
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hardanger Fiddle Tunes

    Thanks everyone for the continuing suggestions! Interesting discussion on the nyckleharpa. I'm familiar with Olov Johansson of Väsen. My friend TJ who built my fiddle has also built a couple nyckleharpa.

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