This week, for the second video of my Winter 2020 project, I am celebrating Norway with a Halling.
A Halling is a lively Norwegian folk dance in which the man aims to ‘demonstrate vigour and virility by performing difficult leaps, kicks, and other acrobatic stunts’. Traditionally, a woman stands on a chair and holds out a long stick with a hat on the end. After he has danced in a circle around the chair for the A and B parts, in the C part of the music, the man jumps up and tries to kick the hat off the stick! The jump takes place when a staccato rhythmical figure is heard in the tune.
Typically, in Norway, a tune like this would be performed on a Hardanger fiddle. This special instrument has additional set of ‘sympathetic’ strings underneath the usual strings, which produces a fantastic resonance to the sound. In my arrangement I have experimented with a loop pedal, in order to harmonise and create different layers of sound – electronically attempting to imitate the sound of the Hardanger fiddle!
Last year I visited Telemark, in the stunning region of Hardangervidda, and was fortunate enough to hear Norwegian fiddler, composer, folklorist, Knut Buen, perform in a beautiful little church. It was such a special acoustic experience.
I learnt this tune many years ago from the fiddle player Sam Sweeney. Each time I go to practise it up, I find something new, either in the melody or the rhythm, which I hadn’t previously noticed. I think it’s a very clever and satisfying tune, and I just love playing it!
I hope you enjoy the video, and dancers – I challenge you to learn the dance (the man’s part)!