Anne Hytta is a leading player of the Hardanger fiddle in her home country of Norway and here in Draumsyn performs her own music which is very much rooted in the traditions of this distinctive instrument.
Here’s what her website says about the record “The music is both modern and old – new and original – inspired by modal melodies of medieval music and the sound landscapes of composers such as John Cage and Morton Feldman. Some tunings in the Hardanger fiddle repertoire have colour names from colour shades that occur at different times of the day. Throughout the day light and colour change gradually – with frequent, continuous variations it is repeated over and over again…
The concert Draumsyn can be performed either solo with only candle lights as accompaniment, or with video by Ingeborg Staxrud Olerud.
But what’s a Hardanger fiddle I hear you ask…and that’s a good question because despite having spent a good deal of time in Norway, I too had never come across this instrument before. The fiddle is looks very much like a violin but instead of the four strings of the violin the Hardanger fiddle has eight or nine strings where four strings are played as you would a violin and the other “understrings” resonate away with the other strings. So now you know.
Draumsyn is made up of thirteen tunes and for a newbie to the Hardanger fiddle it’s an interesting and somewhat haunting album that I think will appeal to a good number of people. Regular readers will know that I’m no classical musical lover but this is quite different and if I was to give it a classification I suppose it would fall under the broad umbrella of World Music as that seems to be a catch all for folk who don’t know quite what to call something from a foreign country that they’ve never come across before.
The music is quite sparse, desolate and dark in its feeling and this would echo the landscape and weather of Norway I suppose, with the resonating understrings certainly adding to this sombre feeling.
The fiddle playing here is undoubtedly not the kind of get up and dance music you’d may hear in Irish folk and overall it’s really a bit melancholy and gloomy. But don’t let that put you off, Draumsyn is really quite a beautiful record and Hytta is clearly a bit of a dab hand with the old Hardanger fiddle. Downloaded in Flac from Highresaudio Draumsyn is out now on Carpe Diem records.