Jew's harp stories from Norway, Part III: Four protagonists of the current Munnharpe music

DAN MOI Clemens Voigt & Sven Otto GbR
Jew\'s harp stories from Norway, Part III: Four protagonists of the current Munnharpe music - Jew\'s harp stories from Norway, Part III: Four protagonists of the current Munnharpe music

Who are the people bringing Jew's harp playing back to life today? In the spectacular collection "Fille-Vern" more than 30 active people are listed who take part as musicians, smiths or researchers and as connoisseurs, if not regarded as ambassadors of the Norwegian Jew's harp. At festivals, music competitions and in forums, male and female folk musicians meet to learn new melodies and to pass on Jew's harp playing techniques to others. Three other people should be introduced as representative of many other Norwegian Jew's harp players: Bjørgulv Straume (*1938), Tom Willy Rustad (*1966) und Hallgrim Berg (*1945).

Bjørgulv Straume

Bjørgulv Straume from the area known as the Setesdal first took to the stage with a Jew's harp in a folk music competition (kappelik) at the age of 50 (1988). He was a source of amazement there due to his unmistakeable playing technique with the index finger. At that time he took first place. Shortly afterwards, he recorded a cassette which he named after the melody he created, "Luftslaget". In addition he recorded a CD with traditional music ("Frå Ætt Til Ætt", 1995) and an instruction video on how to play the Jew's harp, won the Landskappleiken in 1990 und 1991 and crossed genre borders: Straume left his mark on the extremely successful CD "Fra Senegal Til Setesdal" (1997) by the Norwegian folk singer Kirsten Bråten Berg. In the music project the two female Norwegian musicians met the two Senegalese musicians Solo Cissokho and Koame Sereba. Straume made a name for himself as a "mestersmeder", a maker of Jew's harps.

Arne Nordheim: "Partita for munnharpe and electronica", performed by Svein Westad, Anders Røine, Tom Willy Rustad, Veronika Søum

The national folk music competition was won by Tom Willy Rustad in the years 2005 and 2006. Jew's harp protagonists such as Bjørgulv Straume und Knut Tveit inspired his style of playing the Jew's harp. As an active folk musician, Rustad plays even more instruments, among them the diatonic accordion and the reed flute (seljefolyte). Together with the Norwegian folk group Kvarts, he produced numerous albums. In the company of the Jew's harp players Svein Westad, Veronika Søum and Anders Røine Rustad was at the performance of Arne Nordheims composition "Partita for munnharpe and electronica" on the occasion of the 15th jubilee of the Norwegian Jew's harp society in Oslo in 2013.

Veronika Søum

The 30-year-old Jew's harp player Veronika Søum from Numedal near Kongsberg learned to play the Jew's harp from Svein Westad. Together with Bernhard Folkestad, she worked on the instruction manual for the Jew's harp "Enkelt munnharpespel". In addition, she holds workshops in the Norsk Munnharpe Forum. Veronika primarily plays music from her own region, prior to this some melodies were only to be heard on a fiddle before she adapted them for the Munnharpe. She currently lives in Trondheim and also renders musical pieces from the local region on the Jew's harp. She runs the facebook group "Munnharpa".

Hallgrim Berg

While making music with the Jew's harp in Yakutia, Japan and Vietnam was and is obviously influenced by women, the Jew's harp landscape in Norway is still mainly shaped by men. Around ten percent of the members of the Norwegian Jew's harp forum (Norsk Munnharpeforum) are women, according to the Jew's harp specialist Bernhard Folkestad. The Oslo ethnologist Viggo Vestel refers to this fact in his foreword to the CD"File-Vern" and hopes that in the future this situation may change. Only once do female Jew's harp players play in a musical piece on the double CD. Tove Amundsen, Solveig Strand and Gro Offerdal play with the group Leksvoll Munnharpelag, which was founded in the year 2001 by folk musician and politician Hallgrim Berg. Berg plays the Jew's harp and reed flute (seljefolyte). In the 1960s and 1970s, he won several competitions on both instruments (Landskappleik) and also acted as a judge. Hallgrim Berg holds workshops on how to play the Jew's harp , among other things at the "Den Norske Folkermusikkveka" festival in Hallingdal.

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