A visit at Alfred Hüttlinger - TV report about the Jew's harp in Allgäu, Southern Germany

DAN MOI Clemens Voigt & Sven Otto GbR
2015-03-30 00:00:00

One cannot avoid Alfred Hüttlinger from Bad Hindelang when dealing with folk music from the south of Germany. Since the 1970s he has been active as musician and composer of new folk music. The fact that the Alpine zither (also known as kratz zither or Raffele) and the Jew's harp can once again be heard in the region is down to the 70 year old. The casettes and CDs which Hüttlinger and his group "Raffelemusik Hüttlinger-Milz" have recorded are always quickly sold out. However a TV report by BR gives us a view of Hüttlinger's musical world. In particular it deals with Hüttlinger's Jew's harp music.

As a Raffele and Jew's harp player Alfred Hüttlinger is an important representative of a living folk music tradition. Hüttlinger has played with the group "Raffelemusik Hüttlinger-Milz" since 1972. Likewise for the past 40 years he has had a close relationship to the Jew's harp: "I am actually a zither player, I play old Alpine zithers, so-called Raffele. The fascination with the Jew's harp is quite similar to the fascination with the kratz zither: You have a bourdon. On the zither one plays empty strings. The Jew's harp is also a bourdon instrument, the basic tone can always be heard when playing." As far back as 1973 Hüttlinger had already started a Jew's harp trio with two friends. Until today he plays Jew's harp music with his sons. Most of the pieces, he says, are his own compositions. The trained stone mason knowns the numerous possibilities of the Jew's harp, "we have learned a lot from the Yakutian Jew's harp players, for instance that the formation of the sound can be controlled by the pharyngal and the throat, this way completely new tones can be made. These new playing techniques can also be integrated when playing the Jew's harp. In music you have all the freedom you need and you can adopt cross-border techniques. Despite all the instrument remains rooted in the music of the Alpine lands."

Right until today the Hüttlinger trio regularly performs at folk music evening events and in churches e.g. during the Christmas and Easter time. "The Jew's harp has its qualities as contrast instruments to the violin and the organ. It is always fascinating how people react to the instrument. Children respond to the Jew's harp immediately, you capture their hearts straight away, perhaps it also has something to do with the simplicity of the instrument. Until today people ask us, what kind of instrument is that?"

The Jew's harp makes people curious, and Bavarian TV also! The programme "Mit Blasmusik durch Bayern" paid a visit to the home of the Jew's harp player Alfred Hüttlinger from the Allgäu region in summer 2014. In his home town of Bad Hindelang, Hüttlinger's 100 Jew's harps from various regions of the world lie on the living-room table. It is an expedition through various forms and types of Jew's harps, which also exposes Alfred Hüttlinger's favourite instrument. And it is a tonal impression of Jew's harp music in Southern Germany: Alfred Hüttlinger and his son Martin Hüttlinger play in two voices using several Jew's harps; They are accompanied by Fredi Hüttlinger on the guitar.

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