The great divide: recent trends in the technical approach to the fiddle in Norway

Ånon Egeland

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My first dedicated involvement with Hardanger fiddle playing began in my late teens. Unlike the majority of my schoolmates with far more mainstream tastes, I quite rapidly found myself in the lucky position where my musical heroes were also my teachers. All were men, well-respected players and traditional stylists, born between 1893 and 1927, and mostly from the Agder region of southern Norway. All shared an archaic approach to the fiddle, in terms of technique as well as style and repertoire. I employed the same technique as them as a matter of course, and never questioned its validity. So, like them, I held the fiddle against my chest, with the heel of my left hand supporting it. I didn’t encounter any resistance to this approach until, after a few years of apprenticeship, I made a half-hearted attempt to take part in the competition system of Norway’s traditional music scene. I had chosen two of my best tunes and managed to render them in an acceptable fashion. The result was far from disastrous, but the response from the judges was discouraging – especially the written
comment, which boldly stated: ‘Somewhat toothless. Must hold the fiddle under chin’. Of course, there were probably sound reasons to criticise the performance of my twenty-yearold self, so the judges may well have been right in their evaluation of the music. But even now, nearly four decades later, I am not willing to accept that my fiddle hold was to blame for the poor results. I am still puzzled by the attitude of the judges in this regard. All were players of repute, including the great Kjetil Løndal (1907–1987) whose father and mentor, Svein Løndal (1864–1949), ironically, appeared to have used exactly the same fiddle-hold as
myself. So how was it that these adjudicators had come to reject their own background and advocate instead the adoption of a technique influenced by the classical violin?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationÓn gCos go Cluas
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Dancing to Listening
EditorsLiz Doherty, Fintan Vallely
PublisherAberdeen University Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-1-85752-073-6
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventNorth Atlantic Fiddle Convention Conference - Northern Ireland, Derry/Londonderry, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 20121 Jul 2012

Publication series

NameFiddle and Dance Studies from around the North Atlantic 5


ConferenceNorth Atlantic Fiddle Convention Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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