Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mark Gilson -- Swedish tunes on mountain dulcimer


Mark Gilson plays American old-time, Irish, some northern European hummel music and Playford's English country dances -- especially Swedish dance tunes and marches. See his "Swedish Tunes on the Mountain Dulcimer," Mel Bay's Dulcimer Sessions Aug. 2006.

Hummels are zither-like instruments, usually with two or three fretted strings and several more strings which were parallel but unfretted and could be plucked for chords or strummed as drones. In Denmark, the instrument was called a humle. (One must remember that in the 1600's a substantial part of Denmark was under Swedish rule.) The word "hummel" derives from the German word 'hummelchen', a type of bagpipe named for a bumblebee, so one can picture the buzzing drone reminding one of the bee's hum. In Norway, the langeleik is a similar instrument but the frets are dramatically raised from the fret board. The earliest known langeleik dates from 1524. The bodies of most of these Scandinavian zither-family instruments are long and box-like, although there are some examples of more recent hummels with a heart-shaped body - just as contemporary dulcimers come in various different shapes. In addition, the Swedish "guitar" or cittra also shares the quality of having some of its strings fretted, with the majority of them unfretted. The cittra is still used in the music of Uppland which is also home to the nyckelharpa, a keyed fiddle which has much in common with hurdy-gurdies and makes extensive use of drones. These world repertoires of music which make such common use of drones always feel very natural on dulcimer.

And this, on modes:

I play most of my Swedish music in a GDD tuning, although I find ADD works better for certain tunes. The Swedish minor modes do not comfortably fit into Dorian or Aeolian scales, and other modal pieces often are played with neutral thirds on the fiddle. When they are reinterpreted by fixed pitch instruments, there is a tendency to switch between major and minor modes in such a way that makes them impractical on a diatonic dulcimer. Therefore, most of my Swedish and Norwegian repertoire is limited to the pieces in major (Ionian) or raised 4th (Lydian) tunings. The latter is more common in Norwegian tunes, but sometimes occurs in Swedish music from the border regions.

14 CDs -- directory at

Dulcimer Hambo (2012). Purchase online from CD Baby!

Dulcimer Hambo is a beautiful collection of 27 lovely Swedish dance and processional tunes brilliantly realized on solo mountain dulcimer by virtuoso player, Mark Gilston.

The track list for Dulcimer Hambo includes: Dulcimer Hambo (My Hambo Has Fleas) 3:47 | Gånglåt från Rättvik 2:38 | Svingedans efter Mårten Sjöbäck 2:02 | Säckpipslåt från Norra Råda 2:37 | Polonäs från Sexdrega 2:56 | Gavels Ella (hambo) 2:52 | Gånglåt från Vigelsjö av Sten Blomström 2:45 | Polska efter Zuaw 2:30 | Norrbommens Polska efter Hjort Anders 2:08 | Slängpolska efter Byss-Calle 2:51 | Mora Långdans 1:24 | Mållongen av Gunnar Östergårds (hambo) 3:18 | Minne från Rommehed (polkett) 2:10 | Mungalåten 3:29 | Vals efter Tjäder Jonas 1:59 | Snurran (snoa) 2:46 | Steklåt från Särna 2:09 | Ten Crowns Polska 2:10 | Schottis från Haverö 1:57 | Polska efter Båtsman Däck 3:05 | Brudmarsch efter Florsen i Burs 2:03 | Polska från Åre 2:34 | Schottis från Idre 1:49 | Hambo på Logen 3:16 | Skålarna 3:56 | Vendelpolskan 2:20 | Långdans från Sollerön 2:04 | Total Running Time: 70:09


Troll Road (2005). Purchase online from CD Baby!

This wonderful listening album features Swedish and Norwegian "spelsman" music played in traditional style on concertina and dulcimer with guest musician, Tom Gibney on fiddle.

The track list for Troll Road includes: Gänglät efter Olle Gustafson-Solne 1:46 | Slängpolska frän Enanger 3:27 | Brudsmarsh frän Leksands 1:52 | Polska efter Back Far 3:22 | Skänklåt från Dalarna 2:36 | Byggnaân (The Building) 4:06 | Barkbrödslater (Bark Bread tune) 3:15 | Troll Road (schottis) 2:38 | Skinnbracka med Lukku (hambo) 4:16 | Trollspolska (från Boda) 1:39 | Tom's Tune 1:58 | Schottis från Lindome 3:08 | Polska från Malung efter Sjunger Lars 1:53 | March from western Dalarna after Kalle Almlöf 1:52 | Schottis från Bingsjö 2:58 | Senpolska från Stöde 2:39 | Vandringen i Världen 3:21 | Springleik etter Ola åsen 2:45 | Polska från Föllinge (gammelvänster) 3:28 | Lekken Has Jo (springleik) 1:46 | Troll Ring (ringlander) 3:09 | Gammelvänster från Oviken 2:15 | Total Running Time: 61:19

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