Swedish folk music

Swedish folk music is a genre of music based largely on folkloric collection work that began in the early 19th century in Sweden.[1] The primary instrument of Swedish folk music is the fiddle. Another common instrument, unique to Swedish traditions, is the nyckelharpa. Most Swedish instrumental folk music is dance music; the signature music and dance form within Swedish folk music is the polska. Vocal and instrumental traditions in Sweden have tended to share tunes historically, though they have been performed separately.[2] Beginning with the folk music revival of the 1970s, vocalists and instrumentalists have also begun to perform together in folk music ensembles.


The history of Swedish folk music collection began with the formation of an organization called the Gothic Society (Götiska Förbundet) in 1811, shortly after the establishment of Sweden as a modern constitutional monarchy in 1809.[3] The first published transcription of a Swedish folk tune came out in their journal Iduna in 1813. The men of the Gothic Society were primarily interested in collecting the oldest materials they could find among the peasants of the Swedish countryside.[4] Collection in the 19th century largely followed this model; the music was generally arranged for performance by people whose primary background was in art music.[5]

In the early 1890s, the first "public" performances of Swedish folk music by actual spelmän (folk musicians) were held at Skansen, Stockholm's open-air museum of Swedish folklife.[6] The first Swedish spelman contest was held in 1906, and the first national gathering of Swedish spelmän in 1910.[7] Over time, the contests began to fade, and the less formal gatherings became the primary venue for Swedish folk musicians to interact with one another.[8] Instrumental folk music was still primarily a solo tradition during the first half of the 20th century, and the best-known players were virtuosic fiddlers from the province of Hälsingland.[9]

In the 1940s, the first spelmanslag, or amateur folk music groups, were established, associated primarily with the music of Dalarna.[10] The first major recording project for Swedish folk music was also launched in the late 1940s.[11] Some of the most popular recordings were of spelmanslag in Dalarna, and during the 1950s the spelmanslag phenomenon spread throughout the country.[12]

The beginnings of the folk music revival could already be seen in the mid-1960s,[13] influenced by albums such as Jan Johansson's Jazz på svenska ("Jazz in Swedish") released in 1962 (EP) and 1964 (LP). The movement gained momentum in 1970 in the aftermath of Gärdesfesten, Sweden's answer to Woodstock.[14] The Swedish folk music revival peaked in the late 1970s.

In the years since, Swedish folk music has once again receded into a subcultural niche, but the revival has effected a number of changes. These include the addition of a number of new instruments (saxophone, flute, tambourine, guitar, and mandola, to name a few) as well as some revived instruments (e.g. Swedish bagpipe, hurdy-gurdy, and härjedalspipa).[15] The inclusion of these instruments has meant the invention of new forms of ensemble music (given that Swedish folk music had previously been primarily a solo melody tradition).[16] A polska dance revival, beginning in the early 1980s, has meant new contexts for the music to be played in. Swedish folk music has entered the educational system at all levels; musicians are becoming more and more skilled at ever-younger ages.[17]

See also


  1. Kaminsky 2005:33-41.
  2. Jersild 1976:53-66.
  3. "Sin främsta härd i Sverige fick de nya strömningarna i det välkända Götiska Förbundet, bildat 1811… mot bakgrund av Sveriges krigsnederlag mot Ryssland 1809 [The new currents had their primary manifestation in the well-known Gothic Society, formed in 1811… against the background of Sweden’s military loss to Russia in 1809]" (Ternhag 1980:49); "De första utgåvorna av folkmusik [kom till] inom Götiska Förbundet [The first publications of folk music {came about} within The Gothic Society]" (Ivarsdotter-Johnson 1992:58).
  4. "Vad man ville visa fram var en 'nationalegendom' av 'svenska folkvisor från forntiden'… den ålderdomligaste av visgenrerna i Norden [What they wanted to show was a 'national treasure' of 'Swedish folk songs from ancient days'… the oldest of Nordic song genres]" (Ivarsdotter-Johnson 1992:59).
  5. Kaminsky 2005:34-38.
  6. "I denna inramning fick stockholmarna för första gången höra spelmännen själva framföra sin musik i original. Den förste fiolspelmannen, Skölds Anders Hedblom från Leksand, framträdde redan invigningsåret 1891 [Within this context, the Stockholmers for the first time were able to hear the spelmän play their music themselves in its original form. The first fiddler, Skölds Anders Hedblom from Leksand, performed already during {Skansen’s} inaugural year, in 1891" (Ivardsotter-Johnson and Ramsten 1992:239-240).
  7. "1906 – året för den första spelmanstävlingen [1906 – the year of the first spelman contest]" (Roempke 1980:264); "riksspelmansstämman… 1910… var emellertid i sammanhanget något helt nytt [The national spelman’s gathering… in 1910… was something completely new in this context]" (Roempke 1980:269).
  8. "Tävlingarna fortsatte fram till första världskriget, men med en avmattning redan efter riksspelmansstämman på Musikaliska akademien och Skansen sommaren 1910…. Stämmor senare börjar dyka upp parallelt med tävlingarna [The contests continued up until the first world war, but with a decline beginning already after the national folk musicians’ gathering at the Musical academy and Skansen in the summer of 1910…. Gatherings later begin to pop up running parallel with the contests]" (Roempke 1980:269).
  9. Roempke 1980:270.
  10. "Men under 1940-talet slår spelmanslagen igenom. Den tändande gnistan var Dalaföreningens spelmanslag…. 1940 bildas Leksands spelmanslag, följt av Rättvik 1944 och Transtrand 1945 [But during the 1940s the spelmanslag break through. The spark was the Dalarna Association Spelmanslag…. In 1940 Leksand’s spelmanslag was formed, followed by Rättvik in 1944 and Transtrand in 1945]" (Roempke 1980:280-281).
  11. "Som nämnts ovan hade Radiotjänst åren 1948-49 på Olof Forséns initiativ börjat följa upp den då avslutade folkvisetävlingen med inspelningar.... Vid dalaresan användes en 5-tons inspelningsbuss med tekniker och chaufför" ["As mentioned above, in the years 1948–1949 the Radio Service had on the initiative of Olof Forsén started to follow up the then completed folk song contest with recordings.... For the trip to Dalarna a 5 ton recording bus was used, with a technician and a chauffeur" (Ramsten 1979:135).
  12. Ramsten 1992:71-72.
  13. "Arnbergs insatser genom insamling av folkmusik… var förutsättningen för den nya folkmusikvåg som redan vid mitten av 60-talet var klart skönjbar [Arnberg’s contributions through the collection of folk music… were prerequisite to the new folk music wave that was already clearly noticeable in the mid-60s]" (Ling 1980:40).
  14. Ramsten 1992:79.
  15. Kaminsky 2005:138-139, 141.
  16. Kaminsky 2005:143-144.
  17. Kaminsky 2005:67-68.


External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/12/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.