Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A "yes" vote for the Skye Boat Song this week at Clayville

Scots may have voted against independence from the United Kingdom in this month's referendum, but by coincidence -- and by request -- we are going to be taking up a song from the Scottish rebellion of 1745-46 for the Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music at 10 a.m. Saturday. It's called the Skye Boat Song, and it's a fantastic piece of music 3/4 time. It can be played as a waltz, but it's more of a slow air.

The best account (as so often happens) is in Wikipedia, which says it "recall[s] the escape of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) from Uist to the Isle of Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746." Don't believe the bad things you hear about Wikipedia!

According to Wikipedia, for all their romance about Scottish rebellion, the lyrics was written by the British aristocracy of the 1800s -- " by Sir Harold Boulton, 2nd Baronet, to an air collected in the 1870s by Anne Campbelle MacLeod (1855–1921), who became Lady Wilson by marriage to Sir James Wilson KSCI (1853–1926) in 1888." The air, or melody, is traditional, however, and it's lovely. It has been covered by everyone from James Galway and the Chieftans to Tom Jones and Rod Stewart. YouTube has covers by the Corries, the Scots Guards Pipe and Drums and the Tampa Bay Children's Chorus, among others.

A lead sheet is available on EverythingDulcimer.com at http://www.everythingdulcimer.com/tab/ (scroll down the alphabetical directory to the "rlwalker" version of "Skye Boat Song.") It's dulcimer tab, in DAD and DAA, but it has the melody line and chords for those of us who play other instruments. You can also print it out directly by linking here:

http://www.everythingdulcimer.com/tab/skyedul.pdf

There are several versions on YouTube, but the one that's probably the most instructive for us shows a local band called Carl Purdy and Friends at O'Donovan's Irish Pub in Augusta, Ga., Musicians include: Carl (harmony, Irish pennywhistle) and Erin (lead vocal, guitar). The woman who inquires at 1:50 who ordered the "burger with a side of mayonnaise" is surely a waitress and not part of the performance. Think of her as adding to the ambiance!

There's also a nice fingerpicked version on the mountain dulcimer by YouTube user dulcibard.

A classical arrangement -- Beautiful Classic Scottish Music - The Skye Boat Song - Relaxing Harp, Flute, Clarinet, Violin Solo: Beautiful instrumental Scottish folk music solo of the classic traditional Skye Boat - Speed Bonnie Boat song. Best Relaxing Harp and Peaceful Flute music. Mormon Tabernacle Choir Principal Flute, Jeannine Goeckeritz and Principal Harp, Tamara Oswald performing live an arrangement by Skaila Kanga and Clive Romney, joined by Becca Goeckeritz, violin, Daron Bradford, clarinet, and Scott Allen, bass. From the Oswald Goeckeritz Duo live concert "A Joyful Evening" at BYU Education Week. http://www.harpandflute.com.

And an a cappella performance by the UCD Choral Scholars at University College Dublin. If you'd like to hear the lyrics without a conversation about hamburgers in the background, this is the one to listen to!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hasselquist, Esbjörn, music and Augustana Seminary, misc. notes

d r a f t

With dummy or placemarker ("Lorem ipsum …") text to make sure the citations line up with the JPEGs. (Click here for a brief history and some text you can copy and paste into your own dummies.) As I find more information, I'll replace the "lorem ipsum" with text that actually means something!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.


Ernst Olson, The Swedish Element in Illinois: Survey of the Past Seven Decades : with Life Sketches of Men of Today Chicago: Swedish-American Biographical Association, 1917, p. 130.


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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.


C.J. Södergren, "A Brief History of the Augustana Synod," The Augustana Synod, A Brief Review of its History, 1860-1910. Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1910, p. 30.


Google eBook)Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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I.M. Anderson, "The Educational Institutions of the Augustana Synod," The Augustana Synod, A Brief Review of its History, 1860-1910. (Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1910), p. 99.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.


I.M. Anderson, "The Educational Institutions of the Augustana Synod," The Augustana Synod, A Brief Review of its History, 1860-1910. (Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1910), p. 103.


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Fem får og fire geder" (five sheep and four goats) -- a bouncy little traditional Danish fiddle tune

Here performed by Danish --- band Rannok at Live fra Café Bartof in Fredericksberg 23 Februar 2013 - "Dejodejo" CD release. The other tune, the reel, is titled "Den sidste ged" (the last goat).

And here, performed by Fiolministeriet (the Ministry of Fiddles) live in Solingen in 2011. I don't know what the second tune is. Both are from the Bast Brothers' tune collection (whatever that is), according to the notes on YouTube.

Nice review of Fiolministeriet on the Danish Roots website at http://www.danishroots.eu/fiolministeriet-the-fiddle-ministry/:

We meet one early spring evening in the pleasant little café in the foyer of a small hotel in Flensborg, on the German-Danish border. A fairly large group of Danish musicians and people from the international music business are talking animatedly when the street door opens and in step a trio of smiling young women carrying their musical instruments. An aura of success and self-confidence surrounds them. That’s because this is the young Danish trio Fiolministeriet (The Fiddle Ministry), and they are breaking through on the German folk music scene at this very point in time. The Fiddle Ministry play Danish and European music from the 18th century, arranged for violin, viola, cello, guitar and voice sang, and this evening they are returning to their hotel after yet another in a long series of concerts, yet another full house, yet another wild success. The gathering is for the German festival folkBALTICA, and in the weeks up to the festival, The Fiddle Ministry – violinist and singer, Ditte Fromseier, violinist Kirstine Sand and cellist Kirstine Petersen – have toured all over Germany, presenting their brand new debut album.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Terrible Swedes" -- Andover's community baseball team of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and a truly remarkable home run

Very well-written feature story by Stephen Elliott in the Dispatch and Argus when the team was honored in 2007. Elliott's lede and nut graf:

ANDOVER -- They played on ball diamonds with no fences, where collections were taken up to pay for bats and baseballs.

They traveled to small towns around the area, where farm kids could watch their heroes round the bases. Cheers came from people standing outside the dusty ballfields.

They were known as the Andover Terrible Swedes, and they played baseball in the open fields, in rain and sunshine, sometimes into darkness. The players came from farms and factory jobs to share a little of their youth with each other and the fans who came to watch.

Eugene Carlson started his career with the Andover Junior Swedes back in 1939.

When he puts his fingers around a baseball today, the 84-year-old still has a firm grip after all these years.

The eyes squint a little in the sun. The smile seems to reveal memories of a time when crowds came out to see a young boy standing in the open spotlight on a dirt field.…

This, on the local team's origin:

Andover historian Ron Peterson said the Terrible Swedes came about after one of the Swedish players, "Stripes" Johnson, saw a local basketball game with a team called, "Olson's Terrible Swedes," in the 1920s. "Stripes" thought it would make a good name for the baseball club.

And a good deal of history about the team, the players and their service in WWII, and the post-war years, including this:

"One time, a guy hit a ground ball past second base, and it went into a gopher hole in the outfield," Mr. Carlson said. "The guy got a home run."

And this, for a kicker at the end:

But, the Swedes faded out in the late 1950s to early '60s.

The ghosts of the Terrible Swedes are being honored this weekend. Mr. Carlson and Mr. Johnson will be there, along with former teammate and Milan resident Vergene Samuelson.

"I see them now out there running around in the dust," Mr. Carlson said of today's baseball players. "I think, `isn't that a bunch of crazy people?'

"I did it. But, when you're younger, you do a lot of crazy things."

Stephen Elliott, "`Terrible Swedes' played for the love of baseball" Dispatch-Argus QCOnline.com 31 May 2007, http://qconline.com/archives/qco/display.php?id=340738.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lars Paul Esbjörn's psalmodikon -- pix and measurements ** UPDATED w/ AutoCorrect blunder that's too good to fix

Editor's note: In the list of captions to pictures below, there is a reference to a "melody string, center, attached to woods crew …" No, there were no tiny lumberjacks running around Jenny Lind Chapel, and they had no melody strings attached! That's what AutoCorrect did to me when I tried to write "wood screws" as one word.

Notes and pictures from my visit to the Jenny Lind Chapel yesterday with Ron Peterson of the Andover Historical Society, who removed the Esbjörn instrument from its display case and allowed me to measure it. (See also the picture with my post Psalmodikon -- misc. notes on resonance strings (resonanssträngar) immediately below on Sept. 5.) It is clearly a sophisticated, well crafted musical instrument.

Psalmodikon in Jenny Lind Chapel museum

Esbjörn was a protoge of Johann Dillner, who wrote the most important primer on the psalmodikon, and he was one of two founders of the Augustana Synod who used it widely in the early days. (The other was Eric Norelius, of Vasa, Minnesota.) His instrument is wider and deeper than Dillner recommended in his introduction to the 1846 sifferskrift (psalmodikon tablature) edition of Johan Olof Wallin's Swedish Psalmbook of 1819 (click here for details), but is approximately the same length. Its measurements:

  • Length (along side of instrument): 44 inches.
  • Breadth (at wide end): 11.75 inches.
  • Breadth (at narrow end): 5.25 inches.
  • Height: 3.75 inches.
  • Fretboard: 29.75 inches.
  • Vibrating string length (estimated): 33-34 inches.

The instrument was apparently designed for one melody string centered over the fretboard and 10 drone strings, five on each side of the fretboard. See Sept. 5 post below for details. Three strings are still attached. They appear to be loop-end metal strings (maybe 0.12 or 0.14 gauge?). And the end of what appears to be a gut string is attached to the bridge end of the psalmodikon.

Some other measurements: The fretboard is raised approximately 1 inch from the soundbox. Like other Swedish psalmodikons, it lacks metal frets but is cut in a shallow sawtoothed pattern The bridge is a block of wood 1 inch in height, 0.75 inch at the bottom and 0.25 inch at the top. It is cut in a right-angled trapezoidal pattern with the right angle nearest the fretboard.

The picture below, taken in 2013 when the instrument was in its display case, shows its overall proportions.

Other pictures below show: (1) At left, decorated sound hole, 8.75 inches from the nut end; (2) at right, nut end of psalmodikon with wooden peg for melody string. Drone strings are metal loop-end string slipped over woods crews; (3) metal tuning pegs on butt end of psalmodikon for drone strings and end of melody string, center, attached to woods crew; and (4) detail of nut end, showing tuner for melody string, at center, and resonant strings looped over wood screws at sides.



Friday, September 05, 2014

Psalmodikon -- misc. notes on resonance strings (resonanssträngar)

UPDATE Sept. 26 (or thereabouts). Word comes from Keill Tofters, who is writing a book about Esbjorn, that the instrument would be tuned like a nyckelharpa: "Gällande stämning av resonanssträngar tror jag att man (som när vi stämmer resonanssträngar på nyckelharpa) försöker stämma dem i oktavens alla toner. Då medljuder resonanssträngar. Om man spelar t.ex. tonen G på spelsträngen, så medljuder den resonanssträng som är stämd i G. På detta sätt får man starkare och vackrare ton." My translation (with a hat tip to Google): "The current tuning of sympathetic strings , I think that (as when we tune resonant strings to the nyckelharpa) we try to tune them in all the octave tones. Then sound (vibrate) the sympathetic strings. If you play for example the note G on the string board, so the resonant string tuned in G sounds with it. In this way, you get stronger and more beautiful tone."

I am not going to change my speculation below about alternative tunings, however, especially those that might be derived from the hummel; the museum descriptions I turned up had anywhere from three to 14 sympathetic strings, and I think the instruments with fewer than five to eight strings would have to be tuned to fifths and octaves like a hummel -- or American dulcimer. But I am now completely satisfied that Pastor Esbjorn would have tuned his psalmodikon to a chromatic scale as Tofters suggests.

A mystery: Lars Paul Esbjorn's psalmodikon in the Jenny Lind Chapel is set up with a playing string over the fretboard at the center of the instrument and what look like eight or nine 10 unfretted strings at the side of the fretboard (see picture below). One of them, I believe, could have been double-stopped along with the melody string as a drone. But the rest of them look like a player wouldn't be able to reach them with a bow, so they must have vibrated sympathetically like the resonance strings on a Swedish nykelharpa or a Norwegian hardingfele.

So here's the mystery: How could you tune the psalmodikon so you wouldn't be retuning all nine 11 (counting the melody) strings every time you changed keys?

Esbjorn's psalmodikon in Jenny Lind Chapel, Andover, Ill.

Psalmodikons with extra strings weren't all that uncommon in Sweden, judging from the descriptions of the 19th-century instruments on display in Swedish museums, but apparently they weren't standardized, either. It seems to me, from what I've read of Stig Wallin's "Schwedische Hummel," that the Swedish instruments were influenced by the box zithers formerly played in Sweden. So that suggests one possibility -- was the psalmodikon tuned in fifths and octaves like a hummel?

But there's a psalmodikon in a museum in Uppsala that may have belonged to Johan Dillner (provenance uncertain, tho') that looks to me like it may have been keyed like a nyckelharpa. If so, could the resonance strings have been tuned to the notes of a scale? That's how a nyckelharpa is tuned.

My best guess is that different makers would have approached the problem differently, modeling their drones or resonance strings after whatever instruments they were familiar with. The instruments described below have anywhere from four to 16 resonance strings. But it's only a guess.

At any rate, I've been Googling around about psalmodikons, hummels and nyckelharpas lately. My unedited notes follow in Swedish and English (or what passes for English in Google's translation utility) in italics … all of which, taken together, raise as many questions as they answer.

Wikipedia (Swedish) http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalmodikon has the basics:

"Ett psalmodikon är ett musikinstrument som utgörs av en långsmal resonanslåda med en till tre strängar spända över en greppbräda mellan ett strängstall och en snäcka. Kallas ibland för psalmonika. I Gagnef, Dalarna, finns fler exemplar med tre stämskruvar - dock monterades ibland två strängar av för att förenkla inlärningen. Avancerade modeller kan ha upp till 12 bordunsträngar." [A psalmodikon is a musical instrument consisting of a narrow resonance box with one to three strings taut over a fretboard between a string and a stable shell . Sometimes referred to psalmonika . In Gagnef , Dalarna , there are more copies with three tuners - however sometimes mounted two strings to facilitate learning. Advanced models can have up to 12 drone.]

And an English-language Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalmodicon" (note spelling with a "c") has a footnote that seems to describe the Esbjorn pslamodikon almost to a T: " Francis William Galpin (1937). A Textbook of European Musical Instruments: Their Origin, History and Character. Williams & Norgate, Limited. - The Norwegian and Swedish Psalmodikon, of somewhat the same outline, was introduced by Johan Dillner (c. 1810) for accompanying the Church hymn-singing; it has one melody string of gut and eight sympathetic strings of metal." I don't think they were that standardized, though. Certainly the ones I've seen described in museums (see below) have anywhere from 5 to 11 or 12 strings.

Interesting that the playing string would be gut and the bourdon strings metal. Why would that be?

The Swedish Wikipedia page notes, BTW, that, "Instrumentet var även populärt vid husandakter i hemmen och bland kringresande predikanter" (The instrument was also popular at husandakter in homes and among itinerant preachers.). "Husandakter" would be home services, by my translation, or conventicle prayer meetings held in someone's home.

DigitaltMuseum http://digitaltmuseum.se/things/psalmodikon/S-UM/UM09772 has pix of Dillner's psalmodikon in Upplandsmuseet in Uppsala

Pix can be enlarged on DigitaltMuseum webpage (Creative Commons)

Thumbnail history of Dillner and detailed description of the instrument in the museum at Uppsala:

Psalmodikon. Experimentmodell av trä. Ljust brunbetsat och på kortsidorna svartbetsat trä. Resonanslåda med plats för 16 resonanssträngar, tre tonsträngar. Däröver fästes med haspar på sidorna en träklaviatur med tangenter av björk, vissa svartmålade. Påspikad bräda med klistrad lapp för tontecken. Avbalkningsbrädan försedd med metallklamrar och med nottecken i blyertsskrift. Svartmålade stämskruvar. Ljudhål dels S-formade dels hjärtformade. På fastklistrad pappersetikett på sidan står skrivet med bläck: "av Prosten Dillner / Östervåla / Anno 1800". [Psalmodikon. Experimental Model of wood. Bright brunbetsat {brown stain} and the short sides black stained wood. Resonance Box with space for 16 sympathetic strings, three strings. Above that is fastened with hasps on the sides with a träklaviatur {wooden keyboard} keys of birch, some black painted. Påspikad [nailed to] board with sticky patch tontecken {tone characters, e.g. A, B, H, C, D, etc.?} Avbalkningsbrädan {partition board} fitted with metal staples and with musical notes in pencil writing. Black Painted tuners. Sound hole partly S-shaped partly heart-shaped. On the glued paper label on the page is written in ink: "The dean of Dillner / Östervåla / Anno 1800".] Provenance is missing, however: "Uppgifter om proveniens sakanas."

That superstructure reminds me of the keys on a nykelharpa, so I Googled around to see how the sympathetic, or resonance strings, are tuned on that instrument.

Nyckelharpa. http://www.nyckelharpa.org/tips/for-beginners/tuning-the-resonance-strings/ -- American Nykelharpa Association has this:

In the most common configuration, the resonance strings are tuned up the scale starting at G# for the lowest sounding string, located nearest the C playing string, and up to G for the highest sounding string, located nearest the A playing string. So the twelve resonance strings sound G#, A, Bb, B, C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G from low to high.
Also a page on tuning the playing strings and a PDF file that covers both.

Hardingfele. http://www.hfaa.org/Home/articles-on-the-hardanger-fiddle/a-guide-to-tunings-on-the-hardingfele. Karin Løberg Code of Hardanger Fiddle Association of America has detailed information on traditional tunings. The regular tuning, used for 81 percent of tunes transcribed in Norsk Folkemusikk - Hardingfeleslåtter (NFMHS) is: a.d'.a'.e" for playing strings and [(b).d'.e'.f#'.a'] for the sympathetic strings.

QUESTIONS:

  • Could Esbjorn's psalmodikon, with its eight resonance strings, have been tuned to a C major octave -- sort of like a nyckelharpa?

  • Or was it tuned to octaves and fifths like a hummel?

It has seemed to me, and Stig Walin more-or-less confirms in "Die Schwedische Hummel," that as psalmodikon makers branched out from the very simple box zither that Dillner describes in his books, they were influenced by the hummels that were still being played in parts of Sweden during the early 1800s. Certainly the overall shape of the instruments shows that influence. Could the drone strings have been tuned like a hummel, too?

If Walin says anthing about how the drones were tuned, I haven't found it. But here's what he says about the psalmodikon in general terms:

Um 1830 begann der unglaublich schnelle Siegeszug des Psalmodikons über das Land.1 Das Instrument wurde von den mächtigen Erweckungsbewegungen der 40er Jahre und der folgenden Jahrzehnte in Gebrauch genommen. Trotzdem aber hätte sich das Tonwerkzeug nie so schnell ausbreiten können und wäre bei der tra­ ditionsverbundenen Landbevölkerung nie zu sofortiger Anwendung gekommen, wenn nicht der Boden von dem verwand­ ten älteren Zithertypus Hummel so gut vorbereitet gewesen wäre. Als ein belieb­ tes Werkzeug einer rein profanen Musik­ pflege (einschliesslich des Tanzes) muss­ te die Hummel vielerorten als schwer sündbelastet betrachtet und deshalb bei­ seite gestossen oder einfach zerstört wor­den sein,2 um statt dessen vom Psalmo­ dikon ersetzt zu werden,3 das von An­fang an ein Instrument für Gottesdienst und Hausandacht war. [Around 1830 began the incredibly quick triumph over the Psalmodikons the areas.1 The instrument was of the mighty revivals of 40's and the following decades taken in use. but still the Tonwerkzeug [sound, i.e. music, tool] would have never been so fast can spread and would be at the traditionsverbundenen [tradition-bound] rural population never come to immediate application , if not the ground would have been so well prepared by the pretext th older zither type Hummel . As a tool to ANY tes a purely secular music care (including dance ) must te the Hummel have been in many places considered as serious sin burdened and therefore joined in page or simply destroyed by 2 instead of Psalmodikon , 3 which was from the beginning a tool for worship and prayer house .]

Stig Walin, Die Schwedische Hummel: Eine Instrumentenkindliche Untersuchung. Stockholm: Nordiska Museet, 1952. Ethnomusicology http://allourmusic.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/wallin_hummel/.

Interesting tangent (at least to me): Bourdon is the French word for bumblebee!

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Some details about home services I haven't seen elsewhere from Swedish history of psalmodikon in Wikipedia:

Instrumentet började användas i Danmark under 1820-talet, och spreds sedan till övriga Norden och Baltikum. Mest känt är prästen Johan Dillners (1785–1862) psalmodikon från 1830, som användes i en del av Sveriges fattigaste församlingar i stället för orgel. Dillner använde psalmodikonet för att lära ut de nya melodierna i Haeffners koralbok, och gav ut dem i siffernotskrift 1830 (Melodierna till Swenska Kyrkans Psalmer, Noterade med ziffror, för Skolor och Menigheten). Han sade att han kunde lära vem som helst att hantera ett psalmodikon på bara två timmar. Instrumentet var även populärt vid husandakter i hemmen och bland kringresande predikanter. Under senare delen av 1800-talet ersattes oftast psalmodikonet av orgelharmoniet. [The instrument was first used in Denmark during the 1820s , and then spread to the other Nordic countries and the Baltic states. Most famous is the priest Johan Dillner (1785-1862) psalmodikon 1830 , which was used in some of Sweden's poorest parishes instead of organ. Dillner psalmodikonet used to teach new songs in Haeffners koralbok , and published them in numerical notation, 1830 ( The melodies to Swenska hymns , quoted by ziffror , for Schools and the congregation ) . He said he could teach anyone to manage a psalmodikon in just two hours . The instrument was also popular at husandakter in homes and among itinerant preachers. During the latter part of the 1800s was replaced mostly psalmodikonet of the harmonium.]

Cf. the description of the lay readers' conventicle in Moberg's "The Emigrants" ...

Misc. descriptions of psalmodikons in museums (w/ varying numbers of bourdon strings -- all translations, such as they are, by Google):

  • Malmö Museums. http://carlotta.malmo.se/carlotta-mmus/web/object/21994 Psalmodikons, string zither, with long, narrow resonance box made of wood. Fingerboard with 30 bands, melody string missing, with 11 sympathetic strings. The resonance box has a round and two crescent-shaped sound hole. Waisted rim at the round sound hole in the wider part of the resonance box.
  • Kulturen Lund. http://carl.kulturen.com/web/object/24388 Notes: KM 23594th Psalmodikons m. strings fr. V. Karaby, Harjagers hd. conn. by Blecker, Lund. 10:00 With sympathetic strings. String Games and Stable missing.
  • Musik- och Teatermuseet, Stockholm http://old.musikochteatermuseet.se/samlingar/detalj.php?l=sv&iid=1127&v=2007-10-31 16:23:31&str= 1 melody string 16 inner resonance strings Rectangular corpus of neck-like upper part.
  • _________________. http://instrument.statensmusikverk.se/samlingar/detalj.php?l=sv&iid=762&str=19 Flared sides, botten.1 melody string 4 outer sympathetic strings, possibly internal resonance strings.
  • Upplandsmuseet http://www.europeana.eu/portal/record/91617/upmu_object_UM01766.html Psalmodikon av ljust lackat träslag med mörkare fläckar, förmodligen av bets. Avbalkningsbräda med vissa partier svartmålade. Metallklamrar åtskiljer varje avbalkningsdel. Ristade tontecken. Ovan dessa ristade notbokstäver. Stämskruvar svartmålade. Endast melodisträngen (av tarm) är bevarad, men strängfästen visar att tolv resonanssträngar funnits. Stall saknas. Ett runt ljudhål och två halvrunda ljudhål. [Psalmodikons of brightly painted wood with darker spots , probably beet . Avbalkningsbräda with some parts painted black . Metal brackets separating each avbalkningsdel . Carved tontecken . Above these carved notbokstäver . Tuners painted black . Only the melody string ( of gut) is preserved , but the string mounts shows that twelve sympathetic strings existed. Stall missing. A round sound hole and two half- round sound hole.] From Hälsingland. Pix show tuners at end like Esbjörn's in Jenny Lind Chapel.

But my original hunch, for what it's worth, is that the bourdon strings would have been tuned like a hummel, since a lot of Swedish psalmodikons look like their shape is influenced by the hummel.

Creole architecture -- pix on New York Review of Books blog

Nathaniel Rich, "Remnants of New Orleans," Review of Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere by Richard Sexton. NYR Gallery (22 August 2014) http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/gallery/2014/aug/22/remnants-new-orleans/.

[Lede:] “While it actually resembles no other city upon the face of the earth,” wrote Lafcadio Hearn of New Orleans, “it owns suggestions of towns in Italy, and in Spain, of cities in England and in Germany, of seaports in the Mediterranean, and of seaports in the tropics.” There’s no better illustration of this than the photographs of Richard Sexton. For four decades Sexton has been playing a transcontinental game of Concentration, pinballing between New Orleans and the cities of the Creole diaspora—Havana, Quito, Cartagena, Cap-Haïtien—documenting resonances in architecture and style. His photographs have now been collected in the gorgeous Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere, and are on display this fall in a free exhibition at the Historic New Orleans Collection.

e.g. pix of downtown street scenes in Havana, Cap Haitien and Bourbon Street, housing blocks in New Orleans and Panama City ...

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Modes matter: "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" in a minor key (and a bonus track of Cyndi Lauper playing dulcimer)

On Huffington Post UK at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/08/21/girls-just-wanna-have-fun-major-minor_n_5697550.html, a minor-key remake of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." Here's the YouTube clip:

Says HuffPo UK's blurb,

Yes, if you want to imbue Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 hit 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' with a deep sense of sadness and irony, simply shift it from its original major key to a minor one.

It's the work of the very talented young Chase Holfelder, who's producing an ongoing series in which he takes major songs and transposes them to minor. ...

Agreed. Here, by way of comparison, is the 1983 original by Cyndi Lauper. Video on CyndiLauperVEVO channel:

I don't know if I ever noticed it before, but there's no lack of irony there, either.

Bonus track (w/ dulcimer, no less): YouTube heading: Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time (Live on Caroline Rhea show in 2003). The dulcimer, if I had to guess, is probably in some kind of alternative tuning, but the melody is basically Ionian: