This December was truly incredible ! The nyckelharpa, fiddle and I travelled all the way to Hungary for a bunch of concerts with singer-songwriter Csaba L. Bardócz.
The official purpose was to release a few tunes together, the unofficial one was to bring Scandinavian folk music to new audiences ! For that purpose, I brought with me Erik Orvehed on säckpipa (Swedish bagpipe) and various folk flutes.
The rhythm of that little tour was very intense, playing every day in different locations across Hungary and even twice one day, yet we still found time to indulge in sweet poppy seeds rolls, copious amounts of tea and unashamed bad puns. Some locations were truly incredible, like the Leskowsky Musical Instruments Museum in Kecskemét.
Once the concerts were complete, it was time to get into the studio in Hévíz, where we recorded two tunes, Csaba and I. We kept it simple, true to both our performing styles, so the nyckelharpa's resonance and Csaba's emotion-filled voice can be heard fully. We also decided to go for one song in English and one in Hungarian, to balance our internationality with the local and tiny.
These two tunes will be released on next Bandcamp Friday, the 3rd of February !
Running everywhere these days to prepare my first tour in what feels like ages. Looking so much forward to my dance workshops in the Netherlands (already sold out ! you Dutchies are crazy for Nordic dances) and to meeting again my colleague Sylvain of Svall Duo, to let the music flow to the entire West Switzerland !
Find all the details of this tour in the Agenda.
Theme of this year's celebration of Nyckelharpa : play repertoire from other instruments' typical repertoire !
So I recorded two reels from Scotland and Shetland islands :
... a Norwegian fiddle pols from Røros (which is said to be necessary to call a fiddler "good") :
... and a Turlough O'Carolan classic for the Irish harp :
The eyes of Europe and a lot of the world are turned to Ukraine while it suffers violent attacks. History is always more complex than we remember and this country is no exception. As a contribution to the awareness to Ukrainian culture, I decided to share a song coming from a very unique community in the country : the Ukrainian Swedes, a Swedish-speaking population first settled in Estonia, then displaced to southern Ukraine. They still exist to this day and have retained some of their language, traditions, and music.
This is a psalm about death and the hope of rebirth, in Swedish dialect, with Estonian harmonies, kept through centuries in Ukraine. For cultures should be about enriching each other, getting inspired, keeping your inner fire alive and making beauty out of it.
One in Sweden, one in France, we haven't been able to meet for a long time with Sylvain, my crazy guitarist of Svall Duo. We're getting bored ! We want some music action together, we want to make people dance, we want to put crazy riffs on traditional tunes and blue notes everywhere !
So we decided to release a little album, recorded live back in Belgium in 2019, during our best gig. An incredible evening with so much energy that my fiddle bow broke and I lost several nyckelharpa tangents on stage while playing (no damage, no worries). And one can feel that energy in the raw recording taken on the spot.
So it was "just" about picking the best tunes (no the one when the bow broke) and cutting the speeches and applauses in nice places. And balancing the whole sound again. And creating a cover image. And doing all the paperwork for copyrights and credits. And preparing all the promotion material. It's way less complicated to release a digital album than a physical one, but it's still very complex and long. But all this is soon coming to an end...
This is no very big festival as it used to be done in the past (sigh) but it feels amazing and grand : I'm teaching a dance workshop again, and at my dearest Dansstage festival no less !
Of course I have chosen Scandinavian folk dances which are adapted to dancing in a kitchen, a room, basically a tiny space and/or without the best dancing floor. Challenging, but oh so interesting ! And the perfect occasion to teach Swedish folk menuett, as it can be danced solo, duo, in larger groups and in kindof all possible places. I am very much looking forward to that !
The entire festival is free but a financial contribution would be greatly appreciated (Dansstage's extra money always goes straight to the musicians and teachers, which is one of the reasons why we appreciate this festival so much).
Join and learn !
Infos on Facebook
Infos on the festival's homepage & about donations
On another note, it was World Nyckelharpa Day 10 days ago and this year the theme was : play folk tunes from your native country on the nyckelharpa. So I digged into my Swiss tunes and recorded three videos for the occasion ! It was very interesting to work on a repertoire I'm not that used to at all (despite being Swiss by birth, my repertoire is very much Scandinavian). The harmonies were different, the rhythms unusual : it was a great exercise and a lot of fun.
You can find the entire playlist of that day here.
So well, I knew this could happen, but still : getting my entire little tour cancelled day after day while I was already in the country was quite hard. However, thanks to the crazy organizer and the way-too-warm-weather, we were able to hold the fiddle workshop anyways - outdoors mostly and with lots of precautions, but we did have it ! And it was such a bliss to teach a workshop again, I was so motivated I gave lots of documentation to my students and they seemed to enjoy my nerdy enthusiasm !
Outside of that I was also able to meet my Svall Duo colleague Sylvain and we had a short but amazing rehearsing time ! We really got forwards with our arrangements, we took many tunes to a whole new level, exploring modes and variations. A few exciting things on the making on that side, stay tuned !
Else well... it was just about meeting a few dear friends and family members, hiking in the Alps, and eating lots of cheese. Not that musical for a tour, but still nice feeling of going forward with my music, especially with Svall Duo and I'm also full of ideas for my solo things, I just hope I'll find the time soon ! Stay safe and musical, and continue to support your favourite artists, because we're all struggling !
This is happening on sunday and I'm very much looking forward to it ! I had a fiddle student when based in Switzerland who became really, really motivated about the instrument and is now organizing this course-day for exploring fiddle music and techniques in unusual ways. And taking care of one's body as a musician, which, I can really tell you with all my current difficulties, is a truly important topic !