Traditional Norwegian Fiddle Music

Traditional Norwegian Fiddle Music

by Sven NyhusSven Nyhus


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In his only American release, Norwegian fiddler Sven Nyhus serves up a variety of traditional dances and marches, sometimes discreetly accompanying himself by stomping out the beat. Most of the tunes involve convoluted double-stopping, whereby the fiddler sounds two strings at the same time. Almost always Nyhus uses scordatura, which is a deliberate "mis-tuning" of the strings; this gives the fiddle an unusual resonance and makes some note combinations easier to play. Some of the tunes are very bouncy, like "Folldalsleken" which is a song that was handed down to Nyhus by his ancestors. Some of the tunes are very pretty and simple, like "Mo-Innbår-Valsen." Most are stately dances suitable for traditional weddings. The somewhat gothic atmosphere so characteristic of Scandinavian music is hinted at in the strange scales and melodies of the music. This collection of 20 solo fiddle tunes from Norway clocks in at only 32:30, but somehow seems longer. That may be because a little solo fiddle music, even in the hands of a gifted pro like Nyhus, goes a long way. But it may also be, paradoxically, because with tracks averaging just over 1:30, it is not possible to develop a tune's possibilities, meaning that what we get sounds like a bare-bones archival version of each song. For the genre collector or fiddle student only.

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