Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hardanger Fiddle


Mary is teaching herself to play violin. Or more precisely, fiddle.
So, she's listening to this haunting music. Curious, I look over and see that it is a Hardanger fiddle. And I say, my god, you have a boat from Hardanger and she says, "What?" (shows how much she's attending)

So I go on to explain how Hardanger is a place in Norway and jekte is "boat" in Norwegian, so Hardangerjekte is a boat from Hardanger and she says "Oh?"

So I gesture desperately in the direction of the doryman boatyard and say "You know! The newest boat!"

And she says... "Oh, yeah"

Image by Frode Inge Helland

In many folktales the devil is associated with the Hardingfele, in fact many good players were said to have been taught to play by the devil. It was viewed as a sinful instrument that encouraged wild dances, drinking and fights.

A Hardanger fiddle (or in Norwegian, hardingfele) is a traditional stringed instrument. In modern designs the instruments are very similar to the violin though with eight or nine strings. Four of the strings are strung and played like a violin while the rest are sympathetic strings.

The technique of bowing a Hardingfele differs from a violin. It's a smoother, bouncier style with a lighter touch. The player usually bows on two of the upper strings at a time, and sometimes three. This is accomplished via a flatter bridge than the more curved bridge on a violin.

During a wedding in Hallingdal in Norway, after two men had a duel to the death, a man was going down to the basement to get some mead for the winner.

When he came downstairs he saw satan sitting on the beer barrel playing the fiddle while stumping the rhythm with his hoof.


robert.ditterich said...

Aye, but the problem were nae wi' the fiddle, it were wi' the mead! If it were whiskey down there, the divil would nae ha' dared to go down there...

doryman said...

så sant, min venn!