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 Study Group on Folk Musical Instruments


Gunnar Ternhag

15th Meeting: Falun 2002

In almost Mediterranean summer-warmth the study group on folk musical instruments held its 15th meeting in Falun, Sweden August 14-18, 2002. It was the second time for the oldest STG of the council to meet in Sweden – first time was in 1969, when Ernst Emsheimer and Erich Stockmann were the arrangers. Three of the participants attended 33 years later, namely Birthe Traerup, Julijan Strajnar and Ola Kai Ledang!

The 15th meeting was carried out through the invitation of The Centre for Swedish Folk music and Jazz Research and the Swedish Committee of the ICTM. It took place in the beautiful Dalarna´s Museum, more exactly in its well-equipped theatre. Local arrangers were Dan Lundberg, director of the centre above, and Gunnar Ternhag, acting professor in musicology at Åbo akademi university in Turku, Finland. The meeting was honoured by the presence of Krister Malm, the president of the ICTM.

The meeting in Falun had a sad opening, as the chairman of the group, Andreas Michel, was obliged to announce that the beloved colleague and the vice chairman of the STG Linda Kiyo Fujie-Baumann died in May 7, 2002. The participants of the meeting assembled around her memory during a silent minute.

24 persons took part in the meeting – 18 papers were presented under following topics: 

1. Interaction between instrument makers and musicians
2. The introduction of new instruments from historical or contemporary perspectives
3. Nordic folk music instruments in contexts within or outside the Nordic region

The first topic was chosen by Bjørn Aksdal, Laleh Joshani, Irena Miholić, Bo Nyberg, Katrin Lengwinat de Briceño and Rūta Žarskienė. Aksdal spoke about an outstanding maker of Norwegian hardanger-violins, Erik J. Helland, in fact the man who developed the instrument into its present form. Joshani´s paper dealt with an instrument-maker with a similar importance, Hoanes Abkarian (Yahia), who is regarded as the creator of the today´s Persian tar. Miholić presented two Croatian artists that are professional instrument-players and instrument-makers in one person. Two makers of single- and two-row accordions in the Swedish province Dalarna were in the focus of Nyberg´s papers. Lengwinat de Briceño described an innovative Venezuelan maker of Cajón Peruano and his instruments. And Žarskienė, finally, related how the making and playing of multi-pipes whistles (skudučiai) in Lithuania have changed from being female instruments to male ones.

Timo Leisiö, Marianne Bröcker, Rinko Fujita, Geoffrey Matsiko, Tamila Djani-Zade, Igor Cvetko, Temkehet Teffera, Gisa Jähnichen and Auste Nakiene had their papers within the second topic. Leisiö presented reflections concerning the prehistoric roots of the Celtic lyre and the North-Germanic harp. Bröcker had reconstructed the background of the well-known Parisian musette, its sound and stylistic features, in which both accordions and bagpipes are involved. The Japanese taishôgoto, a five-stringed, plucked instrument, took up Fujita´s paper, when she spoke about the construction and the context of this very popular innovation from the beginning of the 20th century. Matsiko reported from the situation for traditional instruments in Uganda. According to him, there is a need for careful modernisation, otherwise electronic instruments will totally dominate the scenes. Mainly on the basis of iconographical sources Djani-Zade related the history of Turkic lutes, especially the qopuz-i ozan. An innovative maker of wooden lurs in Slovenia was presented by Cvetko. Teffera described an Ethiopian side-blown flute, embilta, primarily its cultural context and the playing technique in embilta-ensembles. The fascinating story of how the Madeirian rajão, a guitar-instrument, became a widespread symbol of Hawaii was told by Jähnichen. The use of Lithuanian traditional instruments in composed music during the 80s and 90s was subject in Nakiene´s paper.

The third topic had engaged Hållbus Totte Mattsson, Ola Kai Ledang and Per-Ulf Allmo. Mattsson had investigated the introduction of plucked instrument in Swedish folk music, which happened as late as in the 1980s. With his own craftsmanship as a starting-point (“applied organology”) Ledang presented observations concerning the lur from Norwegian Viking age and the string-instrument langeleik. Allmo´s paper dealt with the question of the origin of the Swedish nyckelharpa.

Apart from the scientific sessions the formal program contained some social interludes – an excursion to the House of Folk music in nearby Rättvik, a concert with a trio that played modernised folk music on old instruments and the customary conference-dinner, where several of the participants performed with or without instruments. In one of the evening sessions there were presented videos, among them a remarkable one about a fieldwork in Albania in 1959 by Ernst Emsheimer, Felix Hoerburger and Birthe Traerup – the video was produced by the latter.

In the closing session the participants decided that Andreas Michel and Gunnar Ternhag both should be chairmen for the group. Next meeting is planned to take place in Croatia.

15th Meeting: Papers

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