Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Salem: "Pretty Saro" in open Ionian tuning played w/ noter

We'll meet as usual Saturday, Jan. 7, from 10 a.m. till noon at the Visitors Center, but I'll have to leave a few minutes early to sing at the memorial service for Becky Schildman in Springfield. Becky was an inaterpreter in New Salem historic village and a founding member of the New Salem Shape Note Singers during the 1990s. Link here to her obituary.

We'll learn two tunes in the Ionian tuning Saturday. (See information on modal tunings linked below.) If you have a dulcimer, we'll tune to DAA. If you don't, contact me ahead of time and I can bring a loaner. My email address is peterellertsen - @ - (delete the spaces and hyphens I put in there to discourage spammers).

The first tune will be the version of "Pretty Saro" in Jean Ritchie's Dulcimer Book. It's a great song, well attested in the oral tradition. Ritchie's version, which is under copyright, is lovely. So I'm posting it under fair use since we're involved in an educational venture in the historic village. The YouTube clip below shows the song being played with a noter on the mountain dulcimer.

Pretty Saro (traditional), played by Ginny White, using noter on mountain dulcimer. Place: Johnson County Missouri Historical Society.

I'll bring some noters, BTW.

I found a whole bunch of homemade noters when we were cleaning out the gargage the other day. I like to whittle on them, and I have a lot of extras. So if you find one you like, you can keep it.

The other tune is one we started to learn last month, "The Legacy" from Irish Melodies by by Thomas Moore. John Armstrong, an old-time Menard County fiddle player and son of a New Salem village, called it "Missouri Harmony," and we know it was sung at Rutledge Tavern, but it's available on line in the Southern Harmony, and I'll bring copies with dulcimer fret numbers written above the melody line (the lead or tenor part, the middle line in the three-part harmony of the day). The Southern Harmony version is easier to play with a noter than the piano-and-voice arrangement I handed out last month. And I plan to use it to show you how to play Ionian tunes directly from a shape-note tunebook without fooling around with tablature.

"Ionian" isn't just a fancy word for "major." A lot of the traditional music we play on the dulcimer is modal - i.e. it comes down to us from vocal music that was sung to different scales in medieval and early modern Europe. The scales, or modes, were given Greek names by church musicians of the Renaissance era. Which is why we know them as "Ionian" (major), "Aeolian" (minor) and so on. But the same scales found their way into instrumental music in the British Isles, and they came to America with the old Anglo-Celtic ballads and fiddle tunes.

The best explanation I've found on line is by Colorado dulcimer player Bonnie Carroll, in a webpage titled Modes, Keys, and Tunings. She explains:

A mode is simply a name given to a particular seven-note order of whole and half steps. It is a scale or sequence of notes or sequence of whole and half steps, but it is not a tuning or a key.

The names of the modal scales and the frets at which they begin are:

  • open -- Mixolydian

  • 1st fret -- Aeolian

  • 2nd -- Locrian

  • 3rd -- Ionian

  • 4th -- Dorian

  • 5th -- Phrygian

  • 6th -- Lydian
The mode of a piece is determined by the notes of that piece as laid out in the linear form called a scale. Further, if you learn at which fret each modal scale begins (the above list), the order of whole and half steps is automatic on the dulcimer due to the location of the frets. Each of the modal scales has a different sound and feel. Let me characterize each one.

The Ionian mode we know as the major scale: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do. The Mixolydian mode has exactly the same whole and half steps as the Ionian, and therefore sounds the same, until we reach the seventh tone, Ti. It is a half step lower in the Mixolydian scale (Ti flat) than the seventh tone in the Ionian. It is, however, still a major sounding mode. The Lydian is the same as Ionian, except the 4th is a half step higher, another major sounding mode. The Aeolian scale is the same as the natural minor scale. The Dorian has the same notes as Aeolian and sounds minor, except the 6th is a half step higher than the Aeolian 6th. It is sometimes called mountain minor by old time musicians. The Phrygian is a minor sounding mode, and the 2nd tone is lowered a half step from the Aeolian. It is the scale that Flamenco music uses. All of the modes mentioned so far differ from the most common major or minor scale by only one note. That leaves the Locrian mode, a minor sounding mode but with a lowered 5th, which makes it sound most unusual for the structure of our usual western European music.
Remember: This is the clearest discussion I could find on line! For practical purposes, we only deal with three modes on the dulcimer - the Ionian (which Jean Ritchie calls the "do scale"), the Aeolian ("la scale") and the Dorian ("re scale") or "mountain minor."

Bonnie Carroll also has this from a traditional Irish music listserv. You may enjoy it after trying to wade through the discussion above:

Subject: Modes and Human Sexuality

The five original modes were the Androgynous, Bubonic, Carthusian, Derranian, and Eucalyptic. All except the Derranian were quickly abandoned when it was discovered that they required a nine-note scale (although you could get away with eight and a half in the Eucalyptic if you had to). The reason for this anomaly was never made clear, but after an initial flurry of curiosity during the first few months of 43 B.C., no one really seemed too interested in pursuing the matter further. The Greek philosopher Ctesiphon (or "the big C," as his friends used to call him) reportedly wrote a lengthy treatise explaining the whole mess, but most of the scrolls comprising the only extant copy of this work were erased and re-used for a collection of really dirty Corinthian limericks. (i.e. "A daring young girl from Mycenae / Wore naught but a bright purple beanie," etc., etc. - the translation work continues).
(Parentheses in the original.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Roskilde Passionen i Helligaandshuset på Strøget, optagelser fra langfredag 2011

A website called Roskildes Musikhistorie has this (in Google translation) account:
Since the early church days have been in the week leading up to Easter entered the Passion as a kind of singing games. Opførelsen var en blanding af soloer og korsang. The building was a mixture of solos and choral singing. Fra Roskilde Domkirke har man bevaret en Johannes-passion fra 1673. From Roskilde Cathedral has preserved a Johannes-Passion from the 1673rd Under ledelse af domkirkens domkantor eller kordegn har udvalgte elever fra Roskilde Katedralskole opført lidelseshistorien, som den beskrives i Johannes evangelium. Under the leadership of the Duomo cathedral precentor and sacristan has selected students from Roskilde Cathedral School listed Passion, as described in John Gospel.

n we as a whole has preserved the old passion play, because it is an opaque, pietistic pastor at the cathedral, H. Jacobsen Buch, who were offended over this relic of Catholic times. Han fattede derfor pennen den 1. He therefore took the pen the first marts 1736 og skrev til kongen via sin foresatte, Sjællands biskop CW Worm, for at foreslå, at denne skik blev erstattet af en opbyggelig prædiken. March 1736 and wrote to the king by his superiors, Bishop of Zealand CW Worm, to suggest that this practice was replaced by an edifying sermon.
Upshot: "Instead of an exciting Singspiel was a boring church sermon of a fellow servant," and this: "And it sent copies of Roskilde passion smoke in the National Archives, so we know it today."

Bibliographic entry w/ library holdings in the U.S. on the WorldCat website: Roskilde-Passionen. Johannespassion efter Dansk tradition; 1673. Udgivet af Samfundet Dansk Kirkesang, 1946. A setting in Danish of the Passion test from St. John's Gospel, for unaccompanied tenor and bass soloists and chorus (STBarB). Columbia, Unaiversity of Arizona and Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia have it.
Description: 24 p. 29 cm.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dec., Jan. music workshops at New Salem

Emailed tonight to the Prairieland Dulcimer Strings electronic mailing list.

Finally! Finals are over, and I have the time to write up this month's period music/mountain dulcimer workshop at New Salem and plan for our next session Saturday, Jan. 7. It's from 10 a.m. to noon in the Visitors Center, and I'm going to send this message to everyone on the Prairieland Dulcimer Strings list in case anybody else wants to join us. There's no charge for the workshops, and all are welcome.

We had five people there Dec. 3 at our first workshop, and I think this year we're off to a better start than ever before. We introduced a song that was sung at Rutledge Tavern, an Irish jig called "The Legacy" with lyrics by the poet Thomas Moore, and we talked about what we want to do in the remaining workshops, January through March.

What we decided on:

-- Playing tips on the mountain dulcimer, both for beginners and for more experienced players who want to learn the old-fashioned, traditional pick-and-noter style.

-- How the music fits into the "Southern upland" culture that early settlers brought to Illinois, plus background on specific songs like "Barbar'y Allen"

-- A written guide to dulcimer history and playing the dulcimer at New Salem, as well as building repertoire, or learning new tunes that are appropriate to the period.

We can do all of those things.

On Jan. 7, I plan to go over the open modal tunings in Jean Ritchie's "Dulcimer Book" and introduce a couple of her tunes in the Ionian, or major, mode: "Pretty Saro" and "Barbr'y Allen." (They're written in C, but we'll play them in D since you can do that easily on a dulcimer.) I also want to do a little more with "The Legacy," and show you how to read shape notes.

It'll take me some time to write a guide - I've been trying to find the time since summer - but in the meantime, here are links to a couple of sources on the internet with background on dulcimer history:

-- Ralph Lee Smith's article "The Appalachian Dulcimer's History: On the Trail of the Mountains' Secrets" in Mel Bay Dulcimer Sessions, July 2003, at

-- My article "Drones, Picks and Popsicle Sticks" on the website, September 2009, at

Ralph's article talks about the history of the dulcimer in America, and mine traces it from some of its European ancestors through to the folk revival of the 1960s. It has a lot of quotes on early styles of playing and tuning the dulcimer. And it's a pretty good cure for insomnia, too.

Hope to see you all Jan. 7 at New Salem!

- Pete

Monday, December 19, 2011

How Brightly Shines the Morning Star / Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, Philipp Nicolai

Philipp Nicolai, pasor, poet and composer of 16th-century Germany, "published the chorale first in 1599 in his book FrewdenSpiegel deß ewigen Lebens (The Joyous Mirror of Eternal Life) in Frankfurt, together with Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme ("Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern," Wikipedia). A good bio of Nicolai in the English website Hymns and Carols of Christmas. He also wrote the lyrics and music for "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme." Together, they are sometimes known as the king and queen of chorales.

Bach cantata BWV 1. Thus saith Wikipedia: "Bach wrote the chorale cantata in his second annual cycle for the feast of the Annunciation on 25 March. ... The cantata was chosen by the Bach-Gesellschaft to begin their first publication of Bach's complete works in 1851."

The website has lead sheet and SATB sheet music harmonized by J.S. Bach

J. S. Bach - chorale from Cantata "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern", BWV 1 (1/-) St. Thomas' Episcopal School, Houston, Christmas Concert, 2009

Also on YouTube a series of six segments on YouTube of a recording of BWV 1 - Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern by Ton Koopman, conducting the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, beginning at

Michael Praetorius has a lovely choral version.
Polyhymnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica (1619). Musica Fiata, La Capella Ducale, Dir: Roland Wilson. Uploaded by GustavAdolphusRex on Oct. 29, 2010.

(Also available on YouTube is a 17-minute video recorded wild from the audience at a concert in Italy (?) performed by Concerto da EMM- Coro da EMM.)

Congregation singing "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" [Wo hell schient us de nee'e Steern] in Plattdeutsch. Gottesdienst am 25. Januar 2009 in der evangelisch-lutherischen St. Petrikirche in Langen bei Bremerhaven.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

I trumål - Religiøse folketonar

I trumål - Religiøse folketonar med Ragnar Vigdal, Asbjørg Ormberg og Sondre Bratland by Ragnar Vigdal; Asbjørg Ormberg; Sondre Bratland (MP3 Download - Nov 29, 2011)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Notes to self - futures - etc. - "Sweet Rivers of Redeeming Love"

"Sweet Rivers of Redeeming Love" - SH 166
- has mp3 from the Big Singing (down left)

Jackson puts it in his "Roll Jordan" family - similarities with "Oh Susannah," etc.

Tne tune was first written down by WIlliam Moore -

John Adam Granade - early camp meeting revivalist in Middle Tennessee "wild man of Goose Creek" -


Sacred Harp - Missouri Convention, St. John's UCC, Pinckney, Mo. in Missouri River bottomland - March 12-13 2011 - Peggy Brayfield filmed, shows front bench tenors beating time "in two" - nice framing shots of the church

Sweet Rivers - Out Loud: The Colorado Springs Men's Chorus w/ interesting piano backup that captures the dronal sound of traditional shape-note singing

soprano solo (Jewel Watson) backed by S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, S.C. - choir - arr. "Sacred Harp: Redeeming Love, Repeated Praise" by Robert J. Powell, organist and composer in Greenville, S.C. - "Sweet Rivers" at 1:15 - search "SCGSAH 13"

J.S. Bach - Cantata 194 "Hocherwünschtes Freudenfest"

J.S. Bach Kantate BWV 194 "Hocherwünschtes Freudenfest" - für den Sonntag Trinitatis - 1.Teil (18:49)

See also post on Thomas Kingo: Hører til, I høje himle May 18, 2011.

Background on chorale melody Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele, from the French psalter of 1551, in Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works at

Sheet music of Freu' dich sehr, o meine Seele from Cantata BVW 194 "Hocherwünschtes Freudenfest"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Off-season period music workshops begin Saturday, Dec. 3, at New Salem

Blast email sent to members of the Prairieland Dulcimers mailing list with press release enclosed - symbols in my email address are written out in CAPS to discourage spam.

Hi everybody -

It's nearly December already, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon we'll have the first of this year's off-season workshops in period music at Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site. I'm pasting more details below. If you have Jean Ritchie's "Dulcimer Book," please bring it and tune to DAA. (But you don't need a dulcimer!) We'll talk about how and where to find songs in old books, and how to transpose them to "D for dulcimer." And I'll bring in a song by Irish poet/songwriter Thomas Moore that young Abraham Lincoln and the Rutledge kids sang at Rutledge Tavern. It's called "The Legacy," and if you want to hear it there's a very nice solo by Denise Myriam Cannas backed by harp and violin on YouTube at ...

I don't think it sounded quite like that at Rutledge Tavern, but it's a really nice song.

Hope to see you there Saturday!

- Pete

Period Music Workshops at New Salem

A series of off-season workshops in music appropriate for playing in New Salem’s historic village will begin Saturday, Dec. 3, and continue through the first Saturdays in January, February and March 2012. Volunteer interpreter Pete Ellertsen will coordinate the workshops, to be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the Visitors Center at Lincoln ’s New Salem State Historic Site.

This year’s workshops will focus on tunes and techniques for playing the mountain dulcimer in “Songs and Tunes of the Wilderness Road ” by Ralph Lee Smith and “The Dulcimer Book” by Jean Ritchie. Both books are available from online booksellers, and Smith’s can be ordered on his website at . In addition, we’ll talk about how to find songs appropriate to New Salem in books like Carl Sandburg’s “Songbag,” John Lair’s “Songs Lincoln Loved” and David S. McIntosh’s “Folk Songs and Singing Games of the Illinois Ozarks” and transpose them for the dulcimer in open modal tunings.

You don’t have to play the dulcimer to take part, and singers as well as people who play other instruments have joined the workshops in past years. You don’t even have to be particularly musical! In addition to the songs, we will discuss how to relate musical performance to “Big Picture” core interpretive themes at New Salem and different ways of involving visitors in the music. Weather permitting, workshops will be held Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011; and Saturday, Jan. 7, Feb. 4 and March 3, 2012.

For information, please contact Pete Ellertsen in Springfield at 217-793-2587 or by email at peterellertsen(AT)yahoo(DOT)com.

# # #

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Heinrich Schütz, Die Weihnachtshistorien

Posted by theprof1958 The King's Consort, Robert King director (highlights)

Part 1 (9:24)

Part 2 (9:22)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Innsbruck, ich muß dich lassen" - notes

Das a Cappella Ensemble ProNobis of Blensheim in Germany sings "Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen" von Heinrich Isaac.

Very good profile of Isaac (1445-1517) on Aryeh Oron's Bach Cantatas Website at "His best known work is probably the lied Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen, of which he made at least two versions. It is possible, however, that the melody itself is not by Isaac, and only the setting is original. The same melody was later used as the theme for the Lutheran chorale O Welt, ich muß dich lassen, which was the basis of works by J.S. Bach and J. Brahms." It adds, "As if in gratitude, German-speaking musicians of several centuries (particularly the 19th) have cherished him as the composer of Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen; at the same time, they searched feverishly for the presumed German folksong behind the famous setting." Wikipedia also has a href=""target="_blank">well-sourced profile of Isaac with links.

Probably a native of Flanders, Isaac sang at the Hapsburg court in Innsbruck early in his career before moving to Italy where his career flourished. Is there an autobiographical echo in the song?

* * *

"Inßbrügg, ick moth dy laten" A very nice folkish arrangment by longtime folk music group Liederjan, of Hamburg, singing in Plattdeutsch [?] backed by guitar -

String quintet arrangement of the Lutheran chorale - Paul Luetkemann [???] O Welt, ich muss dich lassen E21 30.01.2010 Lutherkirche Wunstorf-Luthe

Paul Luetkemann (ca. 1555-1611)
  1. Bibliog. entry on Paul Luetkemann (ca. 1555-1611) @ Library of Congress, Cites New Grove, 2nd ed. (Luetkeman (Lütkemann, Lutkeman, Littkeman), Paul; b. ca. 1555, Kolberg, Pomerania (now Kołobrzeg, Poland), d. 1616; German composer and musician).
  2. A Google directory hit for Paul Lütkemann (c.1555-1616). Fantasia on "Innsbruck, ich muß dich lassen" adapted for recorders by Ulrich Alpers ... [?] at but page not found ...
  3. Luetkemann, Paul c1555-1616 Germany, Kohlberg Pommern / Stettin - ?,? stadtpfeifer at Fantasia on Insbrueck ich muss dich lassen - from 5 and 6 part Fantasias p1597. ccm :: composers-classical-music :: com ~~~ dates and places of 20073 composers by timdebrie ~~~ © Tim de Brie, The Netherlands

Vocal backed by harp - w/ strong Norwegian accent - Petter Udland Johansen & Arianna Savall

Brass quartet in Telc (Czech Republic), April 17, 2009. Grand opening of "Niederösterreich Landesausstellung 2009"

Clavichord Arr. Elias Nicolaus Ammerbach (c.1530-1597) "Innsbruck ich muss dich lassen" & "Wer das Töchterlein haben will" (clavichord)

2 Keyboard pieces by Elias Nicolaus Ammerbach (c.1530-1597).
Ammerbach published the earliest printed book of organ music in Germany and he was organist at the Thomaskirche (Bach's church).

See also the embedded videos and lyrics - 15th-century German, modern German and English translation - at offene Ablage: nothing to hide ... Abbrev:..oAnth.....Motto:...'Nothing to Hide'.#25c3/#CCC.:.. Den Nachgeborenen ein gemahnendes Vorbild & zur bleibenden Erinnerung - Loc: München (Munich - Germany).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Gumbo Chaff" - T.D. (Daddy) Rice

Gumbo Chaff .wmv giggletoot

Lyrics and MIDI file at on Frank Petersohn's Volkslieder website

Sheet music at Gumbo Chaff : a Negro song sung with great applause at the theatres Detroit Public Library | The E. Azalia Hackley Collection

Monday, October 10, 2011

Link to my free-lance story in Mel Bay Dulcimer Sessions

Cross-posted from The Mackerel Wrapper, my blog for journalism students at Benedictine University Springfield ...

In addition to teaching, I write free-lance articles. And my new story in the online magazine Mel Bay Dulcimer Sessions came out today. I wrote the story, and Mike Thomas of Springfield arranged the music. It's titled "'Children of the Heavenly Father' – A Swedish-American Hymn Arranged for Mountain Dulcimer," and it's available at ...

Nice blurb on the homepage, too, by editor Lois Hornbostel:
A beautifully written article, music, mountain dulcimer tablature, and sound file from Peter Ellertsen and Michael Thomas on a lovely, historic Swedish-American hymn that plays beautifully on the mountain dulcimer – “Children of the Heavenly Father” from Jenny Lind.
In COMM 337, I'll walk you through the story and talk about the strategies I used writing it, the things that worked and some things that didn't.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

"Cherry Tree Carol" - Jane Gentry's version, collected by Cecil Sharp, 1916

Lengthy series of notes and several variants, both in England in America, on the Hymns and Carols of Christmas website
... an old carol, dating to the Coventry Plays performed during the Feast of Corpus Christi, ca. 1400,1 and more than 400 years later, [in 1823 William] Hone reports, the carol is "still sung in London, and many parts of England."

* * *

As William Studwell points out, however, there is not a single "Cherry Tree Carol." Rather, this is a combination of three separate folk carols which later merged. The first carol, based on the above quoted exchange, is "Joseph Was An Old Man." The second carol begins with the stanza "As Joseph Was A Walking" (also known as Joseph and the Angel). Finally, there is the Easter carol, "Mary's Question," which begins with the stanza "Then Mary took her young Son."
Cecil Sharp collected the following version Joseph Were A Young Man from Mrs. Jane Gentry at Hot Springs, N.C., Aug. 24, 1916
Hepatonic. Mode 3, a+b (ionian).


Excerpt from Songs of the Carolina Charter Colonists 1663-1763, by Arthur Palmer Hudson. (Raleigh: Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission, 1962). Out-of-Print Bookshelf, Colonial Records Project, North Carolina Office of Archives & History, Department of Cultural Resources, Raleigh

THE CHERRY TREE CAROL: CESPB 54 (from 18th c. broadside, based on an old apocryphal legend); SEFSA [Sharp] I.90-91 (2 N. C. te. and tu.); BCNCF [Brown] II.61-63; HCF (tape). The pregnant Mary asks Joseph for cherries. He tells her to let the father of her baby get them for her. From her womb Jesus rebukes Joseph and bids the cherry tree bow down. He then prophesies His death, burial, and resurrection.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Happy Sailor - variant of Old Ship of Zion in the Sacred Harp

Sacred Harp 388 The Happy Sailor Coker UMC Hour 3 San Antonio Texas 1991 Denison Revision.mp4


Excerpt from introduction to National Sacred Harp Convention CD by John Bealle - ©2003 by the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture,

4 - “The Happy Sailor” (388)
Seth Holloway, Nashville TN
C. J. Griggs (1911) | Arr. B. F. White (1859)
Seth Holloway is in the music business in Nashville and was chair of the Young People’s Convention when the singing was hosted in that city. He is descended through his mother Sarah Smith from the singing Beasley family of Marion County, Alabama. His uncle Joe Beasley (1929-1995) made some important recordings of Sacred Harp beginning during the 1950s that were recently released on compact disk. Beasley moved from Alabama to New York City and was a pivotal figure in the Sacred Harp revival there during the years before his death in 1995. In Beasley’s honor, a scholarship fund has been established that is awarded to young Sacred Harp singers to help with college expenses. Benjamin Franklin White (1800-1879) was the chief compiler of The Sacred Harp. In 1842 he moved his family from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to Harris County, Georgia. It was there that White, having contributed in some now-unknown capacity to William Walker’s Southern Harmony, set about to compile his own book. Along with The Sacred Harp, his chief contribution to religious song was the founding of the Southern Musical Convention (1845), thereby setting in motion
the practice of democratically-organized singing conventions that has endured continuously since then. The tune of this song was arranged by B. F. White for the 1859 edition of The Sacred Harp; singer C. J. Griggs of Atlanta contributed the second and third verses. Griggs was a steadfast supporter of old sacred songs through the period when many turned to gospel music, and served J. S. James as assistant president of the United Convention in its early years. According to James,
the author of the original verse of the text is unknown. Both text and tune have circulated widely in variants under the title “The Old Ship of Zion,” notably as an African-American spiritual. As a spiritual, the most famous printed setting is surely the transcription by Lucy McKim in the book Slave Songs of the United States (1867), pp. 102-3. See: Jackson, Spiritual Folksongs, song #210. Information on C. J. Griggs is from the 1911 James footnote to “The Happy Sailor.”

Listing on the CD in list of recent SH recordings on Warren Steel's website at "Traditional Musics of Alabama, Vol. 3: 2002 National Sacred Harp Singing Convention." This professionally produced CD recording contains 32 songs sung by the very large class at the 23rd National Sacred Harp Convention on June 14, 2002 in Birmingham, AL. It was recorded, produced, and digitally mastered by Steve Grauberger of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture. Perhaps the most outstanding aspect of this recording is the 30-page liner booklet written by historian and Sacred Harp authority John Bealle, who attended some of the early National Conventions, along with numerous photos taken by Steve Grauberger. The notes feature an authoritative essay on the history of the National Convention and a track list which provides impressively detailed information about the author of each text and the composer and history of each tune, as well as some information about the song leaders. The liner notes can be downloaded from the Internet as a pdf file. The price of the CD is $12.50 per CD plus $2.50 shipping per order. Order online or by phone at 334-242-3601.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Link to Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary Handbook

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary Handbook
(Online Draft edition)
Copyright © Worship Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Copyright and other information:

Most of the articles are from Library of Christian Hymns by John Dahle, a resource book on the Lutheran Hymnary (1913) and from Handbook to The Lutheran Hymnal (1942) which accompanied The Lutheran Hymnal (1941). We have placed the articles one after the other, without any editing or consolidation.

Our information tells us that these books are both in the public domain. However, the arrangement of the material in these pages is copyright by the ELS worship committee. Please feel free to copy and distribute public domain material from these pages for non-profit, non-commercial use.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Et barn er født i Betlehem" (a Danish version of a Reformation-era Christmas carol)

Performances of a Danish variant of a very old northern European carol, words in Latin from the 14th century set to different chorale melodies from the 16th century. (At least two, with more variants collected especially in Norway during the 1800s.) Translated into Danish by Nikolai F.S. Grundtvig.

In the Danish Psalm Book (Den Danske Salmebog Online), No. 104, there are two melodies. One is a minor-key 15th-century chorale attributed to Lossius, 1553, and picked up by Praetorius among others. The other is described as a German folk melody (Tysk visemelodi) from around 1600 harmonized by A.P. Berggreen in 1849. This setting is the Danish carol. To hear the MIDI file, click on the button labeled "Tysk visemelodi omkring 1600" under "Vælg melodi" (which means to choose a melody). There are several 78rpm recordings on YouTube.

And an interesting piano arrangement by Erling Jan Sørensen, with improvisation before and after the basic chorale melody by Sørensen himself ... and the Danish text scrolling past in time with the music.

Members of the Danish Radio Choir (Radiokoret) were recorded in 1941 at Matthæuskirken i Copenhagen. Martellius Lundqvist directed, and Palle Alsfelt played the organ.

And in 2010 "elves" from local music classes in Favreskov, near Aarhus, performed it at the Hadsten Centeret there.

Other links are embedded below, and still others are available on YouTube. Last year I linked to a haunting Norwegian version of the song, with Arve Moen Bergset singing backed by Bukkene Bruse. It has a different melody, although it may be in the same tune family as the Danish one.

Some Danish versions follow, including one at that shows a choir, Koren Glomma [choir from Glomma, a river in eastern Norway] in the city of Cluj-Napoca in Romania singing the Danish song, "with a Norwegian accent," in 2007.

Et barn er født i Bethlehem - Statsradiofoniens Pigekor 1944
Statsradiofoniens Pigekor (Girls' Choir). Dirigent: Lis Jacobsen 1944

Et Barn er født i Bethlehem - Aage Thygesen 1931
Operasanger Aage Thygesen, 1931

Thursday, September 15, 2011

John Stenson's No. 2 / for Prairieland Dulcimer Strings

Our song for the "first Thursday" session of the Prairieland Dulcimer Strings on Oct. 6 is "John Stenson's No. 2." It's an Irish reel adapted for American dulcimer. It was originally played in A major, and string bands still play it in that key, but there are lots of "D for dulcimer" versions out there. DAD tab and a MIDI file are available on the Mountain Dulcimer Association website of Huntsville, Ala.

I'll link to performances of the tune in both its Irish and American versions so you can hear how it's evolved ... and if you get bored with the DAD chords, it has a really nice melody.

A favorite jam tune in the mountain and hammered dulcimer worlds, "John Stenson's No. 2" has come a long way from County Sligo, where Irish fiddler Kevin Burke's relatives played it on a button box accordion. From a melodic, highly ornamented Irish fiddle tune, it's changed into a high-octane, flat-out tour de force for dulcimers. It's also changed its spelling, for reasons that aren't quite clear to me, and Americans often know it as John Stinson's with a "i." However you spell it and whatever key you play it in, it's a fine jam tune.

I first heard it in jam sessions at Western Carolina University's dulcimer week (now Lois Hornbostel's Dulcimerville workshop), with more than a hundred players joyously strumming away. It's always played fast (it's a reel), but I think it sounds best when it retains some of the bounce and lilt of good Irish session music.

As with all fiddle tunes, the tablature is only a rough outline. Most mountain dulcimer tab, at least in DAD, has some interesting chord changes in the B Part, but it tends to flatten out the melody.

My inroductory notes are in italics, and I'll copy the information from YouTube below with the embedded videos.

Irish (well, Australian)
and American string bands

First, two members of an Irish band in Hobart, Australia (called the "Craic-pots" if you like puns!) play it very much as Irish fiddle player Kevin Burke learned the tune from his relatives in County Sligo:

Reels by the River - Anna & Ryan: John Stenson's no.2 / Otter's Holt
Uploaded by AnnaAndRyan07 on Dec 6, 2009. Tasmanian Irish folk duo Anna & Ryan. Band Members:Anna Elliston & Ryan Garth. "Anna and Ryan playing some exciting reels down by the Richmond Bridge, Tasmania, oldest bridge in Australia." John Stenson's to 2:00 and a little reprise at the end.

Next, an American old-time string band's version. It's a little more laid-back and easy-going than I usually hear it, but the melody comes through.

John Stinsons Number Two - Rachel Eddy, Krisitan Herner, and Bill Fahy Uploaded by polishbill on Jul 8, 2010. Fahy's 2010 Yard Concert Featuring Rachel Eddy, Kristian Herner and Bill Fahy perfoming Rachels new favorite tune, Stinsons #2, followed by Rachel and Kristian perfoming Dance all Nite with a Bottle in your Hand

In the dulcimer world
(hammered and mountain)

Midwestern hammered dulcimer maven Rick Thum, of High Ridge, Mo., followed by Bing Fulch and J.T. Taylor letting it all hang out on mountain dulcimer. Listen for Bing's chords in the B Part.

John Stenson's #2 and Hangman's Reel. In concert in Rockford, Mich., November 2009. Ken Kaiser backed Thum on guitar.

Bing Futch & JT Taylor - John Stinson's #2 (Part 1). Portage Dulcimer Day Concert 2010, Portage Pa, 7/3/2010

Bing Futch & JT Taylor - John Stinson's #2 (Part 2)

Outtakes. Here are some other versions. Give them a listen: You may hear something you want to incorporate into your own playing.

Kevin Burke ~ The Star Of Munster ❖ John Stenson's No. 1 ❖ John Stenson's No. 2
Uploaded by user eireann0 in 2011, from the CD If the Cap Fits. Third in a set of three reels by the Irish master fiddler. John Stenson's No. 1 begins at 1:24 and John Stenson's No. 2 at 2:03. The Stenson family is related to Burke. Of Co. Sligo.

Evart2010 John Stinson's #2
Posted by GingerJaneM. 6:06. "Around midnight Saturday, July 17." Jamming w/ four hammered dulcimers.

John Stinson's #2
FlatMountainDulcimer "[M]ountain dulcimer performing group out of eastern North Carolina, playing mountain music in the flatlands of the southeast. the group players are Nancy, Dave and Margit."

Kiowa Special + John Stenson's #2
From: dfusselman Feb 23, 2008. Progressive version on mandolin and mountain dulcimer. John Stenson's starts at 2:14.

Mountain Dulcimer - Dulcimerica Video Podcast #63
Part seven of a series from the 2008 Suwannee Dulcimer Retreat at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, Florida. This episode features a couple of pairs: Mary Z. Cox and Bing Futch play a rousing rendition of "John Stinson's #2"; David Beede and Aaron O'Rourke play David's original "meta-protest song", "Shadow of Dylan."

See also

Monday, September 12, 2011

There really was a Per Spelmann ...

... but I don't know if he had only one cow!

[Click on embedded video below for trad and heavy metal versions of the favorite children's song by Norwegian metal band Glittertind, with lyrics and translation.]

Olav Sæta says in history of North Gudbrandsdalen [search under "Blomstringstid på 1800-tallet"] in his Feletradisjoner i Oppland (1992), that he was named Per Kringelhaugen, and he played with Fel-Jakup (Fiddling Jacob) [see Jakup Lom in Norsk Lexikon] and Else-Lars [Lars Kjørren 1824-1894], celebrated traditional fiddlers. Sæta has this:
... Per Kringelhaugen (1830-1907) fra Bøverdalen, også kalt Per Spelmann. Han lærte først av Per Bergom og Jo Lilleødegard, og etter hvert også av Else-Lars. Per Spelmann var den som f6r mest i lag med Fel-Jakup de var bl.a. 13 ganger i følge til Romsdalsmarten. Det må bety at Jakup verdsatte Per Spelmann høyt, og det var Per som i første rekke førte hans spill videre da Fel-Jakup gikk bort i 1876.

Ola Gjerdet (f. 187 1) hørte Per Spelmann og Gamel-Sjugur spille i lag i 1880-åra (Erling Kjøk etter Hans Wiker). Han sa at de to og Else-Lars spelte likt, men la til at Per Spelmann kunne spelle på mange måter.

Da Jakup var borte, ble Per den ruvende spelemannsskikkelsen i distriktet. Det ser ut til at han på sommerstid stort sett dro bygdimellom med fela, men at han nå for det meste holdt seg i Ottadalen (Flå 1963)..
Google translates:
... Per Kringelhaugen (1830-1907) from Bøverdalen, also called Peter Fiddler. He taught first by Per Bergom and Jo Lilleødegard, and eventually by Else-Lars. Per the Fiddler was the most f6r together with Fel-Jakup, they were such 13 times, according to Romsdalsmarten. This must mean that Jakup valued Per Fiddler high, and it was Peter who primarily brought his game on when Fel-Jakup passed away in 1876.

Ola fence (b. 187 1) heard Per the Fiddler and the Gamel-Sjugur play together in the 1880s (Erling Kjøk after his Wiker). He said that the two and Else-Lars played the same, but added that Peter Fiddler could concertina in many ways.

When Jakup were away, As the fiddler towering figure in the district.It appears that he was in the summer pretty much went built between the fiddle, but he mostly remained in Ottadalen (Flå 1963).
As with so many master fiddlers of the 1800s, there was a body of legend about Peter Fiddler. This from the message board VGDebatt on the Olso newspaper Verdens Gang website, on a thread asking people to name their favorite fiddle player [search Favorittfelespelar - Musik- VG Nett Debatt].

On Aug. 13, 2010 [at 8:51], New_Romatic wrote:
Min favorittfelespiller er helt klart Veslefrikk. Han hadde en helt unik evne til å trollbinde sitt publikum. Jeg har også sansen for Per Spelmann, som var så glad i felen sin at han byttet bort en ku for å få den tilbake. Da snakker vi keep it real.
And Google translates:
My favorite fiddle player is clearly Veslefrikk. He had a unique ability to enchant his audience. I also sense for Peter Fiddler, who was so fond of his fiddle that he traded away a cow to get it back. When we talk keep it real.
Veslefrikk is a fairy tale about a boy who played the fiddle in Asbjørnsen & Moe. To New_Romantic's post, Zinklar replied [at 10:10]:
Eg er òg svak for Per Spelmann, eller Per Kringelhaugen som han eigentleg heitte, i frå Lom. Det var ikkje alle forunt å vera sveinnen hass Fel-Jakup, men det sette sine spor, og Per Spelmann enda som mange andre spelmenn på den tida som ein fordrukken mann. Det er dei som ikkje likar Fel-Jakup som hevder at Per Spelmann var ein mykje gjevare spelmann enn han, og at mykje av Fel-Jakup-tradisjonen eigentleg er Per Spelmann-tradisjon.

Han enda sitt liv då ei avlaus øyk råkte han i hugu med bakføtene sine.
Obviously having a little trouble with the nynorsk, Google translates:
I am also weak for At Fiddler, or Per Kringelhaugen that he actually named, the Lom. It was not all people ever to be Sveinn hass Fel-Jakup, but it put its mark, and Per Fiddler even as many other musicians at the time that a drunken man. There are those who do not like Fel-Jakup claiming that Peter Fiddler was a much gjevare fiddler than he, and that much of the Fel-Jakup tradition actually is Per Fiddler tradition.

He even their lives when a avlaus smoke will be generated råkte he Hugues with his back leg.
There's another legend about Per Spelmann in Aslak 0. Brimi's "Kva skal barnet heite?" posted to Brimi's Blog at
Per var ein dyktig spelemann og damesjarmør. For dei som ikkje veit det heitte han Per Kringelhaugen, og var frå Bøverdalen i Lom. Han var ein mykje brukt dansespelemann, og ein gong han sat og spelte på ein ball, var det ein gut som vart ståande å sjå på han. I ei pause gjekk guten bort til Per og ville skjenke han ein dram (Merk det i desse kappleikstider: Det var skikk og bruk å skjenke spelemannen). ”Sjå her nå bestefar ska’ du få ein dram hjå me’”, sa guten. Per snudde seg mot han, såg han djupt i augo, og sa: ”Neimen, æ du ein ette’ me du au?”
Google has:
Peter was an accomplished fiddler and lady charmer. For those who do not know it was called Peter Kringelhaugen, and was from Bøverdalen in Lom. He was a very common dance fiddler, and once he sat and played on a ball, it was a boy who stood looking at him. In a break went the boy over to Peter and he would pour a dram (Note that in these times of Major competition: It was the custom to bestow fiddler). "See here now grandfather ska 'you get a nip among me,'" said the boy. Peter turned to him, he looked deep into his eyes and said, "Oh, I'm to continue a 'we can au?"
I'm not sure exactly how to translate his dialect, but it sounds like he was mooching an extra drink from the boy.

Citations in passage from Olav Sæta are in bibliography for Feleverkene in Institut for Musikvitenskap website at University of Oslo [search under "Litteraturliste for feleverkene"].

Flå, L. (1963). "Per Kringelhaugen fra Lom".I: Årbok for Gudbrandsdalen.

Kjøk, J. (1995). A Spelman Saga. Otta.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

San Francisco blogger on Natkirken på Strøget

Posted April 10, 2007, on a blog Find and You Shall Seek by "Mystic Seeker" of San Francisco -

"Night Church in Copenhagen" ...
* * *

The first Friday, I attended the 8 PM International Evensong, which was conducted in English. The service consisted of songs, readings, and prayers, with participation by both the clergy and the congregation. There was no Communion. There was a creedal recitation included in the order of service, which I wasn't crazy about, but my reaction to that was simply that I did not participate in that part of it. The reason this service was conducted in English was to accommodate the many tourists who visit Night Church. Of course, late March is not exactly high tourist season in Scandinavia, but to my surprise a steady stream of what I presume to be tourists did come in, watch for a while, and then leave. I was actually rather amazed by all the coming and going--I wouldn't have had enough nerve to just drop in on the middle of a church service and then leave like that. I was sorry to say that the pews were virtually empty of people. Other than the clergy, staff, and choir, and the parade of visitors who came and went, there were only three people who sat through the entire service--myself, my girlfriend, and one other person.

The following Friday, I attended the 10 PM candlelit service. It was conducted in Danish, so I didn't understand much of what was said, but in some ways that might have been a blessing, since I was able to just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the service and the music in the candlelight. The priest, a very tall and slender man with a deep, resonant voice, is the same one who had conducted the International Evensong a week earlier. He may have recognized me from the week before, because after service he asked me where I was from. When I said "San Francisco", he asked me if I lived in Copenhagen now. I said no, and told him I just wanted to check out the service while vacationing. I added that I didn't understand what was said. He laughed and said, "Of course". Danes don't expect foreigners to speak their language.

I really enjoyed the candlelit service a lot. As I left the church walked out into the cold nighttime air, I felt a pleasant glow; I really was glad that I had attended it. If I ever go to Copenhagen again, I will definitely go to the candlelit service at Night Church.
Follows a lengthy post April 9 on the "intellectual failure of orthodox Christianity" and Danish theologians

Friday, September 02, 2011

Vachel Lindsay's meeting with Civil War veteran, old-time fiddle player in west central Illinois

Excerpted from the first of his vignettes in Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty (1912). Copied and pasted from

[p. 21]

* * * These selections from letters home tell
how I came into Kansas and how I adven-
tured there. The letters were written avow-
edly as a sort of diary of the trip, but their
contents turned out to be something less than
that, something more than that, and some-
thing rather different.

Thursday, May 30, 1912. In the blue
grass by the side of the road. Somewhere
west of Jacksonville, Illinois. Hot sun.


Cool wind. Rabbits in the distance. Bum-
blebees near.

At five last evening I sighted my lodging
for the night. It was the other side of a
high worm fence. It was down in the hol-
low of a grove. It was the box of an old
box-car, brought there somehow, without its
wheels. It was far from a railroad. I said
in my heart "Here is the appointed shelter."
I was not mistaken.

As was subsequently revealed, it belonged
to the old gentleman I spied through the
window stemming gooseberries and singing :
"John Brown's body." He puts the car top
on wagon wheels and hauls it from grove to
grove between Jacksonville and the east
bank of the Mississippi. He carries a saw
mill equipment along. He is clearing this
wood for the owner, of all but its walnut
trees. He lives in the box with his son and
two assistants. He is cook, washerwoman
and saw-mill boss. His wife died many
years ago.


The old gentleman let me in with alac-
rity. He allowed me to stem gooseberries
while he made a great supper for the boys.
They soon came in. I was meanwhile as-
sured that my name was going into the pot.
My host looked like his old general, McClel-
lan. He was eloquent on the sins of
preachers, dry voters and pension reformers.
He was full of reminiscences of the string
band at Sherman's headquarters, in which
he learned to perfect himself on his wonder-
ful fiddle. He said, "I can't play slow mu-
sic. I've got to play dance tunes or die."
He did not die. His son took a banjo from
an old trunk and the two of them gave us
every worth while tune on earth: Money
Mush, Hell's Broke Loose in Georgia, The
Year of Jubilee, Sailor's Hornpipe, Baby
on the Block, Lady on the Lake,
and The
Irish Washerwoman,
while I stemmed goose-
berries, which they protested I did not need
to do. Then I read my own unworthy
verses to the romantic and violin-stirred


company. And there was room for all of
us to sleep in that one repentant and con-
verted box-car.

Friday, May 31, 1912. Half an hour
after a dinner of crackers, cheese and raisins,
provided at my solicitation by the grocer in
the general store and post-office. Valley
City, Illinois. * * *

From Vachel Lindsay. 1914. Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty. Internet Archive Italics supplied.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Carolan's Draught - w/links to Pierre Bensusan playing "Shi Bhig Shi Mhor" and a very good tin whistle website

"Carolan's Draught" arranged and played Celtic finger-picking style by Jean Banwarth ... Tablature Trad Magazine n° 120 Tabs book (+ scores) avalaible on line from MusTraDem website.

"Shi Bhig Shi Mhor" played by Pierre Bensusan in a free-form, improvisational style

Wandering Whistler Music Archives has tin whistle lead sheets for both, Carolan's Draught in G and Shi Bhig Shi Mhor in D. This is a great website for sheet music!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Dagsens auga sloknar ut" - Elias Blix

Find more artists like Torhild Ostad at Myspace Music

Lots of background at Salmebloggen til Leif Haugen - in Norwegian, but w/ a really nice picture of the harbor in Bergen

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Pride of the Springfield Road" - sheet music w/ note on drones and modal harmony

Catchy song from Belfast that I learned from Jim Rainey of the Irish traditional band Craobh Rua (pron. "crave roo-uh") at Common Ground on the Hill. Rainey said Springfield Road is a working-class Catholic neighborhood once dominated by the textile mills, now gone overseas of course; Protestants had a lock on the shipbuilding industry, and Catholics were relegated to working in the mills. This background is reflected in "The Pride of the Springfield Road," but it's a lovely little song about a young couple who hope to get married and work in the mills. Very nice YouTube clip here of Rainey fronting Craobh Rua.

Apparently "The Pride of the Springfield Road" is performed in B dorian in Ireland. At least the sheet music and chord sheet have it so (written as B minor with the 6th - a G - sharped). Music at:
  • Sheet music - PDF file of a lead sheet in B dorian on a German website (so H = B natural in the chords above the notes)!
  • Lyrics and chords - chord progression over the lyrics with a little background below (in English notation so B = B this time) on an Andy Irvine fan site.
The fansite has a link to a very brief, tinny sounding clip of Irvine singing it. It may be the quality of the recording, but I like Craobh Rua's better.

Although the song is sometimes given as traditional, and it's apparently been around Belfast for quite a while, it's usually credited to Andy Irvine of Planxty and the Patrick Street trad supergroup.

Tangent on modes, drones and Irish trad music: Irvine's website has a detailed first-person bio. A couple of extracts follow. One from the early to mid-60s, when he was mostly busking in Dublin and learning traditional music:
But at that time I loved the really old "classic" ballads. Songs like Sir Patrick Spens, The Douglas Tragedy and Edward. Other publications that made a deep impression were Bert Lloyd’s "Penguin Book of English Folk Songs" with lovely modal tunes.

I used to sing them in O’Donoghue’s [pub] in the very early morning in the Men’s toilet, smelling of disinfectant. There was something wrong with the cistern and a drone emanated from somewhere all the years I frequented the place. Singing against a drone is something I love to this day.

I had begun to try to accompany myself on the mandolin some years before and my style was simple. I more or less played along with the tune adding the odd harmony note and half chord as I had learned from records of Old Timey American musicians accompanying themselves on the fiddle. Johnny Moynihan had taught me to tune down the top string of the mandolin—GDAD instead of GDAE which gave echoes of 5-string banjo playing with the top D usually a constant note.
Also Irvine's reason for naming his first duo Sweeney's Men (formed w/ Joe Dolan in Galway in 60s): "... we decided to name ourselves after the pagan king, Suibhne, who was cursed for throwing a pushy cleric’s bell in the lake. We found it quite easy to identify with Sweeney against the power of the clergy in 1960’s Ireland."<

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sinikka Langeland on Bach, drones and 'my mother's Mixmaster'

Min første organist var mammas miksmaster. - Sinikka Langeland

A new way of thinking about Bach in in Norwegian folk-jazz artist Sinikka Langeland's liner notes to her CD Kyriekoral: Norwegian Folk Hymns And Bach Chorales, with Langeland on vocals and Kåre Nordstoga on the organ in Trondheim's Nidaros cathedral. (Click on links to discography and "Kyriekoral," a word that Langeland coined from the Kyrie Eleison [Lord have mercy upon us] and the Norwegian word for a type of Lutheran hymn called a chorale.)

I've been playing a melody-and-drone instrument for 25 years, and I've been listening to organ music since I was a little boy growing up with my father's E. Power Biggs LPs playing in the background, but I never thought of the organ as a dronal instrument.

But that was before I read this from Langeland:
My first organist was my mother’s Mixmaster. At the age of four I discovered how a sustained drone made me hum and sing almost involuntarily. Something similar happened when I started listening to Bach’s chorales: I was inspired to create my own melodic lines. This was my point of departure. I have never made any attempt to “compose my way into” the masterpieces; I have only wanted to play with, and improvise on, the old hymn melodies that are part of Bach’s complex structures. They sometimes emerge distinctly in the melodic lines, and sometimes so slowly that they are barely perceptible…in the pedal, high, low,
inverted, canons – in short, in every method Bach used to create his masterpieces. When I improvise within Bach’s music itself, I feel very close to him, while at the same time I gain a heightened awareness of my own folk song tradition, especially the religious folk songs of Andris Vang, Ragnar Vigdal, Ingebjørg Liestøl and Sondre Bratland, to name my most important sources of inspiration.
And - you know what? - she's right.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gud Helligånd! o, kom - bios of Johannes Johansen, August Winding and Thomas Laub

At Heligeaandkirken. Hymn for noon service when we were in Copenhagen was Danske Salmebog 523 Min nåde er dig nok, a paraphrase of 2 Cor. 12:9 by Johannes Johansen (1983 and 1995). Mel.: Gud Helligånd! o kom
Gud Helligånd! o, kom
Mel.: August Winding 1861
Thomas Laub 1917

Johannes Johansen
Den Store Danske, Glydendal's open encyclopedia, has this: "Johannes Johansen, f. 1925, dansk præst og salmedigter; biskop over Helsingør Stift 1980-95. Han udgav sin første digtsamling, Thurø-Rim, i 1974 og sine første salmer i 1975; en omfattende samling foreligger i Min egen Salmebog (1996). Det har været Johansens bestræbelse at videreføre det bedste i dansk salmetradition, og han var 1900-t.s betydeligste danske salmedigter efter K.L. Aastrup." The Danske Salmebog bio counts 13 psalms and 2 translations.

August Winding
Not much on him ... what there is comes from liner notes of his recordings ... The Bach Cantatas website has this:
The Danish composer, August Winding, was the son of a clergyman who had a passion for collecting and arranging Danish folk songs. Naturally, August studied with his father. Soon, however, he was to move to greater things; he studied piano with Anton Ree who had known Chopin. This was followed by composition lessons with Carl Reinecke and theory with no less a person than Niels W. Gade, the father of Danish music.

In the first instance August Winding was a pianist. He made quite an impression both in Denmark and in concert halls and recital rooms throughout Europe. His specialities were the concerti of Mozart and Beethoven. He enjoyed playing in chamber ensembles as well as performing as a recitalist. From 1867 he taught at the conservatoire in Copenhagen.

As a composer, August Winding is unfairly remembered only for a few hymn tunes. However, he wrote much other music - including a symphony, Concerto for Piano & Orchestra in A minor, Op.16 (1869); Concert allegro for Piano & Orchestra in C minor, Op.29 (c1875); chamber works; songs; piano pieces.

Source: MusicWeb, from liner notes to the album Piano Concertos by August Winding and Emil Hartmann (Danacord)
Contributed [to the Bach site by its administrator] Aryeh Oron (August 2007)
This review, by blogger John Kersey of a recording of solo piano compositions, adds a couple of details:
August Winding was the son of a pastor, and received his first piano lessons from his parents. In 1847 he studied with Carl Reinecke and from 1848-51 with Anton Rée, also studying composition with Niels Gade. In 1856 he completed his studies in Leipzig and Prague, where he studied with Dreyschock. Returning to Denmark, he became well-known for appearances as a soloist, particularly in Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. In 1864, he married Clara, daughter of J.P.E. Hartmann. From 1867 he taught at the Royal Conservatory, as well as privately. In 1872 he developed a nervous injury to his arm as a result of overwork which forced him to stop concertizing and devote his attention to composition. He resumed teaching at the Conservatory in 1881 and became a member of its board after the death of Gade in 1890. In 1888 he reappeared in public as a soloist and gave a limited number of concerts between then and his death, receiving the accolade of a state professorship and annuity in 1892.
Thomas Laub
Wikipedia's article "Music of Denmark" has this: "Thomas Laub (1852–1927), an organist, was devoted to reintroducing the old Protestant hymn tunes which had been forgotten or altered over the years. He published a number of important works including Kirkemelodier (Church Melodies) (1890), Udvalg af Salme-Melodier i Kirkestil (Selected Hymn Tunes in the Church Style) (1896 and 1902), Dansk Kirkesang (Danish Church Song) (1918) and Musik og Kirke (Music and Church) (1920). Laub also wrote folk song music and together with Carl Nielsen published En Snes danske Viser (A Set of Danish Folk Songs) (1917)." Pix (left) available on Creative Commons license via Wikipedia. But the main bio is a Wikipedia stub.

Laub collaborated with Carl Nielsen on the songbook used for Folk High Schools. See the discussion of Danish songs and hymns" on the Carl Nielsen Society website ... lots of information, summarized in this cutline: "Thomas Laub was one of Nielsen's collaborators on the Folk High School Melody Book and composed two volumes of Danish Songs together with Nielsen." And this:
Carl Nielsen was not religious in the conventional sense of the word. This did not prevent him from writing music for a number of hymns (Salmer og aandelige Sange, composed 1913-1915, published 1919). His friend the organist, composer and reformer of church music, Thomas Laub, had reproached him:

"A composer of hymns must be A Child of the House, by which I do not mean that he has a patent on faith - his faith can be weak, it can be wrong - but he must feel at home, that is to say he must have lived with congregational singing preferably from childhood, he must know it from its uses ...", he wrote to Nielsen.
But there's quite a bit more, including some pretty good atmospherics on Danish folk music.

Buskers - in the free city of Bremen and a story in today's Irish Times - mashed together with a really weak transition

Marktplatz in Bremen

A very informative, well written story on busking in The Irish Times today ... which gives me an opportunity to get some pix up from our trip to Europe ... especially Bremen, a lovely Hanseatic city we visited in northern Germany. Busking is thought of as a typically Irish thing, but it's international. And it was in evidence in Bremen.

In fact, musicians are part of what makes Bremen special.

Statue at left isn't a busker - it's the Town Musicians of Bremen (Stadtmusikanten) on the Market Square downtown. It's shiny in places because people like to rub the statue for good luck. (Sort of like Abraham Lincoln's nose!) It comes from a folktale collected by the Brothers Grimm. Says the summary in Wikipedia, "In the story a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster, all past their prime years in life and usefulness on their respective farms, were soon to be discarded or mistreated by their masters. One by one they leave their homes and set out together. They decide to go to Bremen, known for its freedom, to live without owners and become musicians there." In a word or two, they live by their wits. And the story is delightful. I won't spoil it for you - the rest of their story is in Wikipedia. The city has sort of adopted the animals as mascots, and the statue by Bremen sculptor Gerhard Marcks shows the animals.

Bremen and its port city of Bremerhaven have long enjoyed their common status as a "free city" - i.e. a chartered city pretty much ruled by its burghers, or middle class, rather than the feudal nobility - and even today its formal name is the Freie Hansestadt Bremen (the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen). And the Grimm Brothers folk tale symbolizes that spirit of freedom ... and living by your wits.

At right are some real musicians of Bremen, busking on the other side of the Market Square from the statue.

Here's how Una Mullally begins her story in the Irish Times:
Some are good, some are bad, some are insufferable: you know it’s summertime when the buskers take over the streets. But what separates the talented from the talentless and how does a busker earn €7,000 in one day? ...

A bare-chested dreadlocked man attempting to limbo underneath a blazing stick, an elderly harpist, two men in full native American garb playing panpipes to a backing CD, teenage boys mangling Damien Rice songs on a duo of barely tuned guitars, an artist rolling out a canvas of a remarkably detailed stained glass painting, a bored looking man constructing the likeness of a dog out of sand, a deft spray-painter making surrealist space-scapes with moons and pyramids, a lone opera singer, a trad group, a tightly honed raucous band, a drumming circle, a tuneless accordion-player, a classical trio. Summertime is when the buskers take over our streets, becoming moveable street furniture that annoy, amuse, distract and pleasure in equal measure.

So what makes a good busker, and what makes a rubbish one? Roger Quail is the label manager of Model Citizen and Rubyworks, founded by Niall Muckian who was promoting the primarily singer-songwriter night The Ruby Sessions in the early 2000s. The weekly gigs in Doyle’s pub in Dublin saw several former buskers such as Glen Hansard and Paddy Casey take the stage.

“A good busker is someone who can hold an audience and make them forget where they are, even if it’s only for five minutes,” Quail says. Rubyworks know all about good buskers.
And this vignette that reminds me of the buskers I heard on Grafton Street last year in Dublin:
SUCH IS IRELAND’S bustling busker scene that some people even temporarily move here to get a slice of the action. Kamila and Magda from Katowice in Poland will stay here for three weeks, playing their viola duets every morning on Henry Street in Dublin and every evening on Grafton Street, before returning to their studies in a music academy back home. “We started at 8am and we’ll play until 10pm,” Magda explains, midweek on Grafton Street.

They were here two years ago, “and it was better, definitely” in terms of earnings. These days, they can make anything from €40 to €100 each. They play a mixture of classical music and the occasional pop curveball, concentrating mainly on Bach and Mozart. While they like being their own bosses and choosing when to play, there are downfalls – “the weather” exclaims Kamilla.
And no transition at all for this one. On the motorways in Sweden, they have fast food resaurants called "Rasta."

So I decided it was the best chance I'll ever have to be a Rasta man.

Here's the picture.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bellman - Fredmans sånger n:o 5C - MIDI

Cool! Up tempo, and sounds like a harpsichord. Instrumental only, tho'.

Bellman - Fredmans sånger n:o 5C - MIDI file rendered by Kapten Kaos -

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tips for Longer-Lasting Laptop Batteries - link to Yahoo! feature

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Recondition your battery regularly. Most laptop manufacturers (except Apple) don't generally tell you about this, but a simple process known as reconditioning (or occasionally, recalibrating) can breathe new life into your laptop battery and add capacity back. To do that, turn off your screen saver and any other power management tools which put your PC to sleep. Fully charge the laptop, and then let it run all the way down — right until it powers down due to lack of juice. Then charge it back up again and restore your power management stuff. Do this every few months (such as three times a year).

Remove it when you're not using it. When you leave your laptop plugged in at your desk all day every day, the battery never gets a chance to discharge and recharge — which is critical to its long-term health. Thankfully, there's a simple solution: Remove the battery. As long as your laptop is connected to AC power, the battery isn't necessary; it'll run without it. Just remember to pop it back in before you take your laptop on the go.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

"Samson af hendelse Gasa besøgte"

Catchy tune on Kingoløg CD by jazz artist Kristian Blak of the Faroe Islands called "Samson af Hændelse Gasa Besøgte." The CD is a suite "based on traditional Kingo-hymns afrom the Faroe Islands," but this one doesn't sound like Kingo.

Maybe that's because it isn't.

I haven't tracked it down yet, and it may turn out to be by Kingo. When I Googled it, I found the title by a contemporary of Kingo's named Petter Dass, a parish priest in Nordland, in the north of Norway, who would have attended university in Copenhagen at the same time as Kingo and who wrote songs on the bible and Luther's catechism. This one is pretty racy ... the title means something like "Samson visited the fleshpots of Gaza." Was sung to the tune of another song, "Kommer I cimbriske helte." It's listed in a Swedish data base, the Song and Tune Catalogue of Svenskt visarkiv – The Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research as "Kommer I cimbriske helte med ære" ... the Google translation calls it a "16. og 17. århundredes verldslige danske visesang ... 16th og 17th århundredes worldly wise Danish song" ... no other info

Dagbladet has the text and bio with links in its Kultur diktbasen (culture - poetry) data base. It goes on for quite some length. The first stanza is:
Petter Dass

Mel.: Kommer I Cimbriske Helte etc.

Samson af hendelse Gasa besøgte,
Fandt der en Hore til hvilken hand gaar,
Da de Gesiter fik høre det Rygte
Komme de sammen som Ulven om Faar,
Lader med Krigsfolcket Staden omringe,
Meente de hannem ret visselig finge.

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It's also available on the University of Oslo website at
[several further pages. Click here for info on the documentation Project of the University of Oslo.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Luther, sermon on the Passion [excerpt]

The following sermon is taken from volume II of, The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI). It was originally published in 1906 in english by Lutherans In All Lands (Minneapolis, MN), in a series titled The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 11. The original title of this sermon appears below (preached by Luther approx. 1519-1521). This e-text was scanned and edited by Shane Rosenthal; it is in the public domain and it may be copied and distributed without restriction. Original pagination from the Baker edition has been kept intact for purposes of reference.


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16. Sixteenthly. When your heart is thus established in Christ, and you are an enemy of sin, out of love and not out of fear of punishment, Christ's sufferings should also be an example for your whole life, and you should meditate on the same in a different way. For hitherto we have considered Christ's Passion as a sacrament that works in us and we suffer; now we consider it, that we also work, namely thus: if a day of sorrow or sickness weighs you down, think, how trifling that is, compared with the thorns and nails of Christ. If you must do or leave undone what is distasteful to you: think, how Christ was led hither and thither, bound and a captive. Does pride attack you: behold, how your Lord was mocked and disgraced with murderers. Do unchastity and lust thrust themselves against you: think, how bitter it was for Christ to have his tender flesh torn, pierced and beaten again and again. Do hatred and envy war against you, or do you seek vengeance: remember how Christ with many tears and cries prayed for you and all his enemies, who indeed had more reason to seek revenge. If trouble or whatever adversity of body or soul afflict you, strengthen your heart and say: Ah, why then should I not also suffer a little since my Lord sweat blood in the garden because of anxiety and grief? That would be a lazy, disgraceful servant who would wish to lie in his bed while his lord was compelled to battle with the pangs of death.

Another translation, with notes, at the website ... with this intro:

On Invocavit Sunday, March 13, 1519, Luther wrote his friend George Spalatin, “I am planning
a treatise dealing with the meditation of Christ’s passion. I do not know, however, whether I
shall have enough leisure to write it out. Yet I shall try hard.”1 In the same letter he cites the
reasons for this lack of leisure: activities directed toward the renewal of the university
curriculum, his work on the Lord’s Prayer,2 a commentary on Galatians, and particularly
pressing and irksome, his intense study of canon law in preparation for the upcoming Leipzig
Debate with John Eck, July 4 to 14. Nevertheless, it was a mere three weeks later, on April 5,
that Luther was able to send a printed copy of his work on the passion to Spalatin.3
By 1524, a total of twenty-four editions had been printed in Wittenberg, Basel, Augsburg,
Zurich, Erfurt, Munich, Nürnberg, and Strassburg. The number of editions testifies to the
widespread response aroused by this writing. A Latin edition, whose translator is unknown,
appeared at Wittenberg in 1521. As the sermon for Good Friday, this treatise was included in the
Church Postil of 1525, which Luther termed his “very best book.”

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Malene Bjørnestad Schmidt, Salmernes rolle i den lutherske gudstjeneste - links

Malene Bjørnestad Schmidt. Salmernes rolle i den lutherske gudstjeneste – historisk og ritualteoretisk med særligt henblik på den danske højmesse. Institut for praktisk teologi, Aarhus universitet,
24. januar 2006


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Passion hymns of Hallgrímur Pétursson in Iceland

aHallgrímur Pétursson (1614 – October 27, 1674) According to his profile in Wikipedia, "Because of his contributions to Lutheran hymnody, he is sometimes called the Icelandic Paul Gerhardt." He ran away from home, got a scholarship to study in Copenhagen after "an Icelandic priest travelling through Glückstadt (now in Germany but then a part of Denmark), heard Hallgrímur curse his employer in Icelandic." He got one of his students pregnant in Copenhagen, ran off again - this time to Iceland - but when her husband died (the student was married, no doubt another complication for a seminarian), "she and Pétursson promptly married." For all of that, he was a gifted poet.

According to the Wikipedia article on the passon hymns ...
The Passíusálmar or Passion Hymns are a collection of 50 poetic texts written by the Icelandic priest and poet, Hallgrímur Pétursson. The texts explore the Passion narrative, as traditionally presented, from the point where Christ enters the Garden of Gethsemane to his death and burial. Hallgrímur began composing the work in 1656, while serving as priest of Saurbær in Hvalfjörður. It took him three years to complete, the final poem being written in May 1659; the first edition was published seven years later, in 1666. By the end of the century they had become so popular in Iceland that five editions had been published. Since that time, they have been reprinted 65 times, a unique achievement in Icelandic literature.

The Passíusálmar quickly became an important part of Icelandic religious expression, being sung or read during Lent in every Icelandic home; today, they are broadcast on the radio during that time of year. They have been set to music by many composers of Icelandic church music, including Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson and Jón Hlöðver Áskelsson, but use outside Iceland is rare. ...
PDF files of the 1923 translation by Charles Venn Pilcher are available on line. Pilcher "has in every case [but one] preserved the metre and the rhyme-scheme of the original - thus makaing it possible to the music of those stately German Chorales with which the words are associated in Iceland" (vii).

Radio Iceland has a very full website on the Passion Psalms, but it's in Icelandic ... the link Söngur on the left of the page takes you to text, notes and sound files of what appear to be field recordings of the psalms. And, yep, they sound like chorales.

Samples from the oratorio Hallgrímspassía by Sigurdur Saevarsson are available on YouTube. ssía. Performed by Schola cantorum, Caput and Jóhann Smári Sævarsson, conducted by Hörður Áskelsson. Also available on Sigurður Sævarsson's website.

Download of Sacred Music of Iceland - The Hallgrimskirkja Motet Choir - RARE - FLAC has info on a 1989 performance by Mótettukór Hallgrímskirkju (The Hallgrimskirkja Motet Choir) conducted by Hörður Áskelsson.

An English adaptation. On YouTube a trailer for a documentary on the Passion Hymns. Blurb as follows: "This is a trailer for a documentary in progress by Dall Wilson. In 1600 European democrats in Moravia were displaced from their homeland. In those days, Icelandic poet Hallgrimur wrote the Easter Saga to Moravian hymn-tunes. This was adapted for performance in English by Dall Wilson. In the 1700s, three displaced Moravians from Brno settled in Greenland. The documentary looks at the shared musical tradition and its influence. The playbook with music score and chords is available at"

Wilson has videos of a choir from the Faroe Islands at Dall - Passion-Hymns of Hallgrimur by dallwilson Part 1 and Part 2 Not much about Wilson other than an interview on North Carolina public radio, but apparently he does mixed media projects involving music and cinematography ... he's from Winston-Salem, has Moravian roots there. His arrangements carry notations indicating melodies come from Gerhardt and other composers of the Reformation period. They sound like chorales.

A fun article by Sindri Eldon of The Reykjavík Grapevine headed "Come All Ye Faithful, But Other People Can Totally Come If They Want To" advancing performances of Pétursson's work:
Not all artists are assholes. Some, in fact, can be quite friendly. While the Hallgrímskirkja Friends Of The Arts Society may not befriend artists, they are, as their name suggests, great fans of art, so an appreciation of artists would be implied; indeed, it would kind of be necessary, considering what it is the Friends Of The Arts do. They promote art exhibitions and concerts in Reykjavík’s iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, that pointy edifice that looms over the centre of town like some crazed monolithic seal.

This month, the Friends Of The Arts have organised some kick-ass classical music for us, including a free organ concert, some chamber music although most notable is a celebration of Iceland’s most notorious composer of hymns (and the man who gave Hallgrímskirkja its name), Hallgrímur Pétursson. His hymnody, the ‘Passion Hymns,’ will be read in its 50-psalm entirety on Good Friday, and there will also be a performance of select hymns on Maundy Thursday.
All snark aside, the pictures of the church do look a little bit like a seal balancing a cross on its nose.

Music theory: Want to drive your roommate out of his/her mind?

... or tune your instrument to standard pitch?

Or hear the relationships between the major, Dorian, Mixolydian and natural minor modes?

Use the Flash Piano ap on Benjamin Hollis' website "The Method Behind the Music." Says Hollis, "We have created a virtual piano that you can use to play scales and intervals to help your understanding of these and other topics. You can even play a tune!"

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Jante laws" and terrorism in Norway

Jante laws (pron. YAN-teh) are a typically Scandinavian code of behavior, from a Danish novel but widely recognized in all the Scandinavia countries ... here's what Wikipedia says: "The Danish-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose in his novel A fugitive crosses his tracks (En flyktning krysser sitt spor, 1933, English translation published in the USA in 1936) identified the Jante Law as a series of rules. Sandemose's novel portrays the small Danish town Jante (modelled upon his native town Nykøbing Mors as it was at the beginning of the 20th century, but typical of all small towns and communities), where nobody is anonymous." The Jante laws are also in force, naturally, in Lake Wobegon. Small towns everywhere, I suspect.

Snippets from July 28 article "In Norway, Consensus Cuts 2 Ways" by Steven Erlanger and Michael Schwirtz in the New York Times, which quotes the Jante laws rather perceptively ...
“When you are confronted with multicultural immigration, something happens,” said Grete Brochmann, a sociologist at the University of Oslo. “That’s the core of the matter right now, and it’s a great challenge to the Norwegian model.”

Norway’s leaders, from the royal family on down, have all praised the country’s solidarity, democracy, equality and tolerance, and all vow that these values will not change. Virtuous, peaceful, generous, consensual — this is the Norwegian self-image, aided by the oil wealth that props up one of the most comprehensive social welfare systems in the world.


For all its virtues, the emphasis on consensus here can also promote small-mindedness, smugness and political correctness. That is especially true when newcomers have different notions on certain values, including gender equality and secularism, even in an officially Christian country, that Norwegians hold dear.

“We’re a lucky society for many reasons, and not just oil,” said Ms. Brochmann, citing Norway’s distance from both the euro and the American financial crisis and its strong and transparent democracy.

“But many of these aspects of this consensus society have another side,” she said. “This is also a society of conformism,” she said, citing the “Janteloven,” or Jante law, based on small-town Scandinavian norms that govern group behavior, promoting collectivism and discouraging individual initiative and ambition in a world where no one is anonymous.
Text of Jante laws below, in Danish and English, courtesy of my cousin Lise in Copenhagen:

1. Du skal ikke tro, at du er noget.
2. Du skal ikke tro, at du er lige så meget som os.
3. Du skal ikke tro, at du er klogere end os.
4. Du skal ikke bilde dig ind, at du er bedre end os.
5. Du skal ikke tro, at du ved mere end os.
6. Du skal ikke tro, at du er mere end os.
7. Du skal ikke tro, at du duer til noget.
8. Du skal ikke le ad os.
9. Du skal ikke tro, at nogen bryder sig om dig.
10. Du skal ikke tro, at du kan lære os noget.

Jante law

1. Do not think that you are something.
2. Do not think that you are equal to us.
3. Do not think that you are smarter than us.
4. Do not delude yourself into thinking that you're better than us.
5. Do not think that you know more than us.
6. Do not think that you are more than us.
7. Do not believe you are worth something.
8. You must not laugh at us.
9. Do not think that anybody cares about you.

10. Do not think you can teach us something.