Fossegrimen is a dance band specializing in the playing of Norwegian and Swedish folk dance music.  The group plays gammaldans and bygdedans music as well as numerous mixers and set dances.  The musicians perform with a variety of string instruments including fiddle, hardanger fiddle, nyckelharpa, guitar, mouth harp and bass violin.
 
Fossegrimen er ei dans orkester som speller Norsk og Svensk folkedans musikk.  Orkesteret speller gammaldans og bygdedans musikk og blande familierdanser og turdanser.  Fossegrimen medlemmer spelle med many strenginstrumenter:  vanligfele, hardingfele, nyckelharpor, gitar, munnharpe og bas fiolen.
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Fossegrimen releases debut CD

 

             In December of 2007, the dans orkester Fossegrimen released their debut CD called "Vals til Claire.

             Fossegrimen performs folk dance music from Norway and Sweden.  The group plays for monthly dances in Salem and occasionally in the Portland and Seattle areas and was founded by David and Claire Elliker-Vågsberg in 1999. David leads the group and performs on fiddle, hardanger fiddle and nyckelharpa.  Claire plays fiddle and nyckelharpa. The other members are: Kurt Elliker,  fiddle; Brian Wood, guitar & nyckelharpa; John Blunk, bass.   Most of the folk music the group plays originates directly from   Norway and Sweden and is performed in the authentic style of the area of origin.  Fossegrimen plays both gammaldans music (vals,  schottis/reinlender, masurka & polkas) and bygdedans music (springars, gangars, polskar, & polsdans) as well as runddansere or turdans ("set dances", usually choreographed), and various "mixers".  The group   wears bunader from Norway for special occasions.

 The title tune of the CD, "Vals til Claire" is a tune written for David's wife, Claire, during a drive back from a nyckelharpa workshop in Seattle, Washington.  Another tune called "Truklrak" is dedicated to David's two sons: Karl and Kurt. 

Most of the tracks on the recording came from the rote tradition of fiddlers from Norway and Sweden.  A few of the tunes were more recent, having been written during the twentieth century, but most have come from the 1800s and some from the 1700s.  These are melodies which have been passed down from one generation to another.  Some music can be traced to old musicians notebooks, such as the tune called "Slängpolska efter Magnus Theorin".  Magnus Theorin lived in Växjö, Sweden and wrote the music down in 1792.

 Many of the melodies that Fossegrimen plays have no composer since they have been handed down so many times that their only identification is the fact that they are "from" the playing of the last musician to teach the music to another musician.  In that way the name of the tune can change from one era to another.

Two of the tracks demonstrate the sound of the Hardanger fiddle, an instrument which originated sometime during the 1500s to 1600s in the Hardanger Fjord region of Norway.  The modern versions of these instruments have changed quite a bit since the 1600s however the music has kept the flavor of the older times.  The modern Hardanger fiddle has 4 or 5 sympathetic strings and is tuned differently from a modern violin.

Some of the Fossegrimen tunes also feature the nyckelharpa, a Swedish instruments with four top strings and 12 sympathetic strings.    This is an instrument which has origins going back to the mid 1300s.  The nyckelharpa is played very differently from a fiddle, since it is held by a strap over the shoulders and the bow is moved up and down over the top strings.   The pitches are produced by moving the keys in to stop the string with a tangent while a very short bow is drawn over the top strings.   One of the melodies on the CD called "Lugumleik i hallingtakt"  illustrates  the sound of the Norwegian "munnharpe" or mouth harp.

The CD is available from CD Baby for $15 at: 

            http://cdbaby.com/cd/fossegrimen

 

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