Thursday, February 26, 2015

Carl Michael Bellman, Fredman's Epistel N:o 2 -- "Nå skruva fiolen" / "So Screw Up The Fiddle"

I'd better explain -- yes, "Nå skruva fiolen" translates into English as "screw up the fiddle," but what it means is tune up the fiddle, i.e. tighten up the tuning pegs.

FREDMANS EPISTEL N:o 2. Til Fader Berg, rörande Fiolen. "Nå skrufva Fiolen …"

Martin Best - So Screw Up The Fiddle Epistle No 2 Bellman In English. Martin Best sings the "Epistle of Fredman No 2"(Original title:"Fredmans Epistel No 2 "Nå Skruva Fiolen" written by the Swedish poet and composer Carl Michael Bellman(1740-1795)

Carl Michael Bellman Nå skruva fiolen FE no 2. Den Högskoleförberedande linjen på RML har gjort egna arrangemang på svenska visor och framför här sina tolkningar inför publik.

Lars Hedberg sjunger Bellman. With nyckelharpa backup.

Fredmans Epistel Nr.2 (Live @ RML).

"The Marais Project's take on Swedish songwriter, Carl Michael Bellman's "Fredman's Epistel No 2". The song is about Bellman's love of wine, woman and the fiddle! With Pascal Herington ‐ tenor; Melissa Farrow ‐ baroque flute; Fiona Ziegler ‐ baroque violin Tommie Andersson ‐ theorbo and original 1820s classical guitar; Jennifer Eriksson ‐ viola da gamba. Arranged by Tommie Andersson." The Marais Project is an Australian early music group.

Per Malmborg - Nå skruva fiolen - Epistel n:o 2 - Carl Michael Bellman.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Companion to Svenska Psalmbok of 1819

Studier i psalmboksfrågan med särskild hänsigt till 1889 års kommittéförslag till reviderad svensk psalmbok. Ed. Fridolf Nathanaël Ekdahl. Lund: Collin & Zickerman, 1893 (Google eBook).

Bach -- Cantata 140, Wachet auf ... / Sleepers Awake


Bach - Cantata 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 (1731)

Boy Soprano: Alan Bergius Tenor: Kurt Equiluz Bass: Thomas Hampson Chorus master: Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden Tölzer Knabenchor Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt Concentus musicus Wien Music "Cantata No.140 Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV140 : IV Chorale - "Zion hört die Wächter singen" [Tenor]" by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Google Play • iTunes • AmazonMP3) Category Music License Standard YouTube License

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Sandy Boys" -- an A Mixolydian fiddle tune ... with thoughts on capos and breaking out of the "D for dulcimer" lockstep


Highlight (for me) of Mike Anderson's Winter Weekend mountain dulcimer festival in Chillicothe, Ill., came while I was in the car heading back to Springfield and two previously unrelated thoughts bumped up against each other in my mind -- driving the interstates will do that for you -- and, CLICK!, there was a brand-new thought.

At Mike's suggestion, I took Dave Haas' intermediate class. I don't particularly like the standard DAD mountain dulcimer tuning, but Mike thought I might get something out of the class. And of course he was right. Here are a couple of the somethings:

  • One of the tunes we played Friday night was "Sandy Boys." We played it in D Mixolydian, but I remember it from East Tennessee as one of those fine old "A modal," or Mixolydian, fiddle tunes that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. We went over it so many times, it got to be an earworm. And then back in the motel I liked it so much, I got out the tablature and went over it again to keep the earworm going.
  • So the next morning I asked Dave if I could get A Mixolydian by retuning from DAA to EAA, and he said yes -- but

Dulcimer - Hangman's Reel and Sandy Boys - Will Manahan and Dave Haas - OVG 2013 (2/3). Dave, who played backup guitar and posted this video to YouTube on his channel davehaasmusic, says, "Will Manahan (dulcimer) and Dave Haas (guitar) play a medley of "Hangman's Reel" and "Sandy Boys" at the Ohio Valley Gathering, held March 15-17, 2013, in Lexington, KY. Will received a standing ovation for his performance and was asked to play another tune. Thanks to the Louisville Dulcimer Society for hosting this wonderful festival."

"Sandy Boys" begins at 1:00. "Hangman's Reel" is another fine old A-modal fiddle tune.

Sandy Boys - Alan Jabbour and Ken Perlman. brucefromga's channel "Alan Jabbour and Ken Perlman playing a house concert for Charlotte Folk Society, Nov. 2011. Edden Hammons tune."

"Sandy Boys" on the "Country" Dulcimer by Ben Seymour. Ben, a luthier from western North Carolina, shows off a new dulcimer and plays the tune in D mixolydian, with a variation in the B part that I remember hearing -- and really, really liking -- back home. "Sandy Boys" begins at 1:00.

Sheet music. Lead sheet with guitar chords in abc notation -- with MIDI file (click on "live broadcast" to hear).

To print, click on "download … png." On my Mac, I enlarge it to 125% before printing.

Andrew Kunz' Fiddlers' Companion website has the background -- plus all the lyrics you could want, and even more! Go to and scroll down the directory:

SANDY BOYS. Old‑Time, Breakdown and Song. USA; Kentucky, West Virginia. A Mixolydian. AEae tuning. AB (Silberberg): ABAB'A'BAB (Krassen). A tune from the repertoire of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, fiddler Edden Hammons. The original, however, appears to be in the American minstrel show repertoire, for a similar version (though different in the ‘B’ part from Hammons’ tune) can be found in Phil Rice’s Correct Method for the Banjo (1857), a period tutor, and also appears an 1844 minstrel songbook (reproduced by Harvard Theatre College Collection, Cambridge, Mass.). Gerry Milnes has found ribald words accompanying the tune in West Virginia. The modern “revival” or “festival” version may have stemmed from a ‘mislearning’ of Hammon’s tune by Bob Herring. See also Missouri fiddler Gene Goforth’s related “The Quail is a Pretty Bird.” Carl Baron supplies the following lyrics, sung, in whole or part, to the melody (although it will be recognized there are quite a few ‘floating’ verses):
Sandy Boys
Raccoon's got a long bushy tail.
Possum's tail is bare.
Rabbit's got no tail at all
Just a little bit a bunch of hair.
Squirrely he's a pretty thing
He carries a bushy tail
Eats up all the mossy's corn
And hearts it on the rail
Do come along, sandy boys
Do come along, oh do
Do come along, sandy boys
Waiting for the booger-boo

There are several other verses.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Norelius on psalmodikon in St. Paul and Vasa, Minn.

Blundered into on the Internet -- when I was looking for something else -- and posted to the blog so I can find it later …

Eric Norelius, turn-of-the-century president of the Augustana Synod and historian of its early days, displayed a wry, understated sense of humor. Below are: (1) my translation of his account of worship services at First Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church in St. Paul in 1860 and 1861; and (2) quotes from Norelius' published accounts of the early days.

In the 1860s Norelius was a circuit rider based in Vasa, just west of Red Wing, Minn., and for a while in St. Paul. His recollection of his first Christmas in Minnesota appears in several of his reminiscences. This, notably, in the 50th anniversary album of First Swedish Lutheran Church in St. Paul:

… We had our services in a little room in the German Humeberg's house directly behind the church. Julotta 1860 was extraordinarily pleasant and edifying. The little teacher's desk was tastefully covered, and the little room was radiant with light. John Johansson, nephew to Dr. Hasselquist, was our parish clerk and organist, and a psalmodikon made out as [utgjorde] our organ. When we subsequently moved to another place, one man took the pulpit on his back and another the psalmodikon under his arm, and the chore was over. (Jubel-Album 44)
[My translation.]

Humeberg was a German landlord. Dr. Tufve Hasselquist, then of Galesburg, later became one of the founders of Augustana Synod.

Eric Norelius. The Pioneer Swedish Settlements and Swedish Lutheran Churches in America, 1845-1860. Trans. Conrad Bergendoff. Rock Island: Augustana Historical Society, 1984.

On October 25, 1860 the congregation met to elect a pastor and issued a call to Pastor E. Norelius. There was no prose of a salary but the congregation agreed to pay $5 a month for the pastor's rent, as well as arranging for the place. It was understood that the pastor was to have his headquarters in St. Paul and serve the congregation when he was home, otherwise he was to serve as a traveling missionary in the parts of Minnesota he was able to reach. A committee was appointed to hire an appropriate place for services, and it succeeded in renting a small room, almost a closet, from a German, Henneberg, a little north of the present location of the church.

… The congregation was small, consisting of only 13 communicants in the summer of 1860, but grew slowly. Peace and unity prevailed, and the devotional hours in the small chamber were delightful and refreshing. Mr. John Johnsson led the singing, often with the help of a psalmodikon. The Christmas morning service 1860 was especially uplifting. The small pulpit was tastefully decorated, the small room was radiant with light, but the greatest joy was in the happiness with which the Word of God was received. The two most important achievements of the year were the acquiring of a lot for a church and the adoption of the normal congregational constitution. (311)

In his autobiographical Early Life of Eric Norelius, 1833-1862: A Lutheran Pioneer, trans. Emeroy Johnson (Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1934), Norelius quotes from De Svensk Lutherska Församlingarnas Historia -- essentially the same account 13 members, "Peace and harmony prevailed …" -- services "pleasant and refreshing" -- "Mr. John Johnson (a nephew of Dr. Hasselquist) was our song leader, and sometimes he accompanied on a 'psalmodikon.'" -- julotta in 1860 -- "The services were being held in a building rented from a German by the name of Henneberg. It was located on the street directly back of the present First Lutheran Church of St. Paul" (287).

Cf. Emeroy Johnson, Eric Norelius: Pioneer Midwest Pastor and Churchman (Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern., 1954), p. 92: "In a rented room located in the area where the railroad yards are now, Norelius held a joyful Julotta service on Christmas Day, 1860. Lights and decorations helped to make it a festive occasion for all. John Johnson, a nephew of Pastor Hasselquist, led the singing, playing the hymns on his psalmodikon."

Monday, February 09, 2015

Augustana seminary Chicago 1860-63

C.W. Foss, "The First Days of Augustana College," The Alumnus, Alumni Association of Augustana College, Rock Island. Volume 1 (1892-93), pp. 2-4 (Google eBook)

Saturday, February 07, 2015

What's a psalmodikon?

Talking with another historian in Springfield today, I realized I don't have anything on the blog explaining what a psalmodikon is and how it was played. Wikipedia has a page at, with some of the basics.* And I have several pages on Hogfiddle with the specs for specific instruments and other arcane knowledge, including details on my presentation "The Psalmodikon -- Pastor Esbjorn's Singing School" April 25 in Andover. But nothing I could point my friend to.

So … better late, I guess, than never:

A psalmodikon (pron. sahl-MOWD-i-kon) was a monochord, or one-string box fiddle, used by Scandinavian church musicians to help keep singers on pitch when they were learning new hymns. They were used primarily for choir practice and home services (husandakter) in the early to mid-1800s, falling out of use as more congregations were able to afford pump organs for worship. In Sweden, they were influenced by the hummel -- a box zither similar to a mountain dulcimer -- and they are fretted diatonically like a northern European hummel or an American dulcimer. They were brought to the U.S. by Swedish and Norwegian immigrants.

Here's what one looks -- and sounds -- like. The still picture below illustrates a YouTube audio clip of a psalmodikon ensemble in Stockholm playing an old Swedish hymn called "Din klara sol går åter pop" [the glorious sun doth arise]:

Explains YouTube user Martin Magnusson (in Swedish, followed by English translation): "Din klara sol går åter opp ... ett smakprov från Nordiska psalmodikonförbundets CD-skiva Psalmer och visor på psalmodikon inspelad i Stjärnhov i juli 2010. Kan beställas från NPsF hemsida" [The Glorious Sun Doth Arise … a sample from the Nordiska psalmodikonförbundet's CD Hymns and songs on the psalmodikon played in Stjärnhov, July 2010.]

In recent years, the instrument has been revived by primarily Norwegian-American groups in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area, who are members of the Nordic-American Psalmodikonforbundet, and in Sweden by the Nordiska Psalmodikonförbundet. Their websites are linked below.

Notation. One of the psalmodikon's selling points was a system of tablature called "siffernoter" [numerical notation] that substituted the numbers for different degrees of the scale -- the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth and so on -- in place of the notes on the lines of a musical staff like in standard notation. "Din klara sol …" looks like this.

And here, for the sake of comparison, is "Din klara sol …" in standard notation, as seen in the Augustana Synod's 1892 edition of the 1819 Svenska Psalmbok:

They've transposed it, from E-flat in Dillner's siffernoter to D in the 1892 hymnal. But the tablature doesn't change -- to change keys on a psalmodikon, you would just retune the melody string from Eb to D. I am betting that would have been very useful for pastors in little churches out on the prairie who might have to accommodate the singers in a small choir from time to time.


* I should add: I would definitely change one of Wikipedia's "basics." They spell "psalmodikon" with a "c," but the word is spelled with a "k" in English, Norwegian and Swedish alike. The "p" at the beginning of the word is optional in Norwegian, for reasons too complicated to go into here, but nobody since the 1850s has spelled the name of the instrument with a "c." Nobody.