Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bishop Hill workshop Aug. 2 on psalmodikon and Swedish-American music -- ** UPDATED w/ Plan B ** -- cf. what I planned, what we did

LATER (October 2014) -- The text below is the news release and flier I sent out promoting the workshop. As you can see, I had planned to show dulcimer players how to play the tablature that pastors used to teach harmony singing to rural congregations both in Sweden and the United States. But when the workshop began, I learned that no one in the audience played the dulcimer. So I thought a minute, and went to a Plan B. Link here for a writeup of what we actually did in the workshop and here for tablature and sheet music of some of the songs that Swedish-American immigrants knew and loved. I am now putting together another workshop, titled "Pastor Esbjorn's Singing School," for the 155th anniversary of the founding of the old Swedish-American Augustana Lutheran Synod at Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover. The Rev. Lars Paul Esbjorn, of Andover, was one of the synod's founders.

Ever wonder what the psalmodikons in the museums at Jenny Lind Chapel and Bishop Hill sounded like? How they were played? What were some of the songs the pioneer immigrants brought over from 19th-century Sweden? Want to sing them or play them on a dulcimer – or another modern musical instrument?

The Bishop Hill Heritage Association will sponsor a workshop Saturday, Aug. 2 (re-scheduled from May 10), on how Swedish immigrants learned to play hymns on the psalmodikon. The workshop will be at 2 p.m. in the Dairy Building, 410 N. Erickson St., Bishop Hill. It is free and open to the public.

* * *

Pete Ellertsen, a retired teacher and amateur musician of Springfield, will demonstrate how Swedish-American pastors of the 1840s and ’50s used the psalmodikon (pronounced “sal-MOW-di-kon”) to teach harmony singing from the Svenska Psalmbok of 1819 in rural congregations where everyone might not read music. The instruments, which looked like a modern dulcimer, were inexpensive and easy to play. Ellertsen, who plays the mountain dulcimer, has a replica of the psalmodikon in Bishop Hill’s Steeple Building museum.

Workshop participants will learn how to read psalmodikon tablature, known as “siffor-noter” (number notes) and convert it to sheet music; and how to sing simple melodies and play them on the mountain dulcimer or another musical instrument. All skill levels and all instruments are welcome. This workshop is partially funded by the Illinois Arts Council.

2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 2, Dairy Building, Bishop Hill

Links to tab and sheet music …

Permalinks re: Bishop Hill and Andover …

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Misc quotes on history, Clayville, "Prairie Dreams"

Since historical reconstruction is a rational process, only justified and indeed possible if it involves the human reason, what we call history is the mess we call life reduced to some order, pattern and possibly purpose. -- G. R. Elton

See more quotes at:

"A Memoir of Professor Sir Geoffrey Elton." Jeremy Bennett.

Rachel Otwell. "The Past Comes Alive With Clayville Theater" WUIS-FM, University of Illinois Springfield. Aug. 31, 2012. [audio w/ stills]

Nondescript dulcimer at 0:35 to 1:32, player quoted at 0:50.

Penny Zimmerman Wills. "Our History: Clayville to revive play about its founding" June 7, 2014. State Journal-Register