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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 5/27/16 Byss-Calle's Slängpolska


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/318863

janolov - Posted - 05/27/2016:  11:57:12


I am sorry I am a little late with this TOTW. Yesterday afternoon when I was alone at home and was going to sit down and write this TOTW the power disappeared and we was without electricity for 6 hours. We usually have a safe power supply and it was 20 years ago last time we have a several hours long failure. However, the power is back so now I can put together the story of this week's TOTW.



 



This TOTW is a traditional Swedish tune called Bpyss-Calle’s Slängpolska (sometimes also called Byss-Kalle’s Slängpolska). Byss-Calle was a musician active in the first half of the 1800’s. His instrument was nyckelharpa which is a very old instrument in Sweden, Norway and Germany. Slängolska is a dance in ¾ time. 



 



Slängpolska



The Slängpolska (Swedish plural slängpolskor; "släng" Swed. for "toss, throw, chuck" and directly cognate to the English "to sling") is a Swedish folk dance and sometimes also the description of certain folk music tunes. You can read more about the dance here: . 



Slängpolska is always played in ¾ time but it is not as a waltz. A common variant of slängpolska is called sixteenth-polska because a measure is built up by 1/16 notes – that means three "bum-di-ty" per measure - and beat 1, 2 and 3 have almost equal stress and length. 



I think when listening to a slängpolska, or playing,  it is difficult to count 1, 2, 3 as is usual when listening and playing waltzes. 



 



Byss-Calle



Byss-Calle's born name was Carl Ersson Bössa, but he was known as Byss-Calle or Byss-Kalle. He was born in 1783 and died 1847. His ancestors were immigrants from Belgium and had the family name Boussard, which in Swedish became Bössa (Bössa also means gun or shotgun in Swedish).  He worked as a herring fisher and bargeman, but became a legendary player of nyckelharpa and played at dances, wedding and feasts and other celebration. . One of his apprentices or pupils, the church organist Mats Wesslén (1812 – 1878) notated his music and  was published in 1870, and is still available on Internet. There are 57 different tunes collected from Byss-Calle.



Byss-Calle lived in the same area as my ancestors, so maybe the my grandmother's grandmother's grandmother's grandmother have danced with my grandmother's grandmother's grandmother's grandfather to Byss-Calle's music.



 





Nyckelharpa

A nyckelharpa ("keyed fiddle", or literally "key harp", plural nyckelharpor) is a traditional Swedish musical instrument. It is a string instrument or chordophone. Its keys are attached to tangents which, when a key is depressed, serve as frets to change the pitch of the string. The strings are sounded by a bow, smaller than a fiddle's bow.There are four common variants of the nyckelharpa still played today, differing in the number and arrangement of keys, number and arrangement of strings, and general body shape. The predominant type is the three-row so-called "chromatic nyckelharpa", with the melody strings tuned A1 - C1 - G, a drone C (from the highest to the lowest string) that is only touched occasionally, and 12 resonance strings (one for each step of the chromatic scale).

The resonance strings, or sympathetic strings, which were added to the instrument during the 16th century, are not bowed directly but resonate with the other strings.

Traditional variants of the nyckelharpa used to have one or more drone strings. This is not the case for modern chromatic nyckelharpor with three rows of keys for three melody strings and one bass string. But there are today also types with four or even five rows of keys.





 





Byss-Calle’s Slängpolska



Byss-Calle’s Slängpolska is probably the most popular tune by Byss-Calle today, and is played a lot. It is in G major. When listening to fragments of this tune it reminds some about American (Appalachian) fiddle music. There are the same kinds of embellishments, and is played AABB where the last halves of A and B is the same. However, I have found that the phrases are much longer in the slängpolska than in fiddle music. In a traditional fiddle tune a phrase is often about two measures (four bum-di-ty) (Cripple Creek, Old Joe Clark and so on). But in the slängpolska I think the phrases are four measures long, which is twelve bum-di-ty. Sometimes I think of the slängpolska as a 2/4 tune with all measures crooked.



Music notation is available at:



folkwiki.se/Musik/196



touchwood.se/noter/byss_kalle_med_ack.pdf



nyckelharpa.org/pdfs/slangpols...kalle.pdf





 



There are several good recordings with different instruments (nyckelharpa is present in most of these links)



Huldrelokkk  (at ca 2:00 the music starts)



Väsen:  



Nyckelharpa and three-finger banjo  



Guitar flatpicking  



Performance at church 



Nyckelharpa and bowed dulcimer  



Fiddle 



Fiddles  



Harp  



Dancing 



 



OT banjo tab



I have made some tab transcriptions in G tuning. The melodic tab is based to 96% to the notation (at one place I play a G note on fifth string instead a E note on the first string). Than I have a tab of my own arrangement "janolovic style". I have also made a tab for a thumb lead version.



I will try to add an own recording during this weekend.



Edited by - janolov on 05/28/2016 00:10:14



Byss-Calle's Slängpolska - thumb lead


Byss-Calle's Slängpolska janolovic style


Byss-Calle's Slängpolska - Melodic

dbrooks - Posted - 05/28/2016:  07:47:35


Jan, thank you for this fascinating tune. I plan to share this with our fiddler at our contra dances who loves tunes like this. We play Josefin's Waltz fairly often, for example. I think he will be enamored of the nyckelharpa as well. Your "janolovic" style tab is very playable. I also enjoyed the videos you provided.



David


janolov - Posted - 05/28/2016:  11:46:10


Thanks David. Josefin's Waltz is a fascinating tune too, but in a way it is an antithesis to Byss-Calles slängpolska. Both are in 3/4 meter, but Josefin's Waltz is a typical waltz with a typical waltz beat. The slängpolska has a a more undefined meter (and can sometimes sound as duple time and sometimes as triple time. Josefin's waltz is a contemporary composition (but based on old traditions) while the slängpolska is an old composition, almost 200 years old. But both have been subject to the TOTW!


JanetB - Posted - 05/29/2016:  07:33:49


Another interesting, delightful Swedish tune from you, Jan Olov!  I was able to easily play your clawhammer tab, but thought I'd understand Slangpolska's timing and cadence better by pursuing it further.  I came up with a tab in 4/4 timing that has 12 measures in the A part, including a crooked measure, plus pick-up notes. The B part is straight with 12 measures.  The European feel of the tune for me comes from the way the melody moves.  It reminds me of compositions by Irish bard and harpist Turlough O'Carolan.  The melody is extended internally, much in the way as a conversation might be spoken when a person embellishes his thoughts within a sentence.



I enjoyed the nyckelharpa, too, and will think of it as the "Swedish fiddle."  Thanks for this unique TOTW.  



 




Slangpolska (Swedish TOTW)


Slangpolska efter Byss Kalle (CH) tab

dbrooks - Posted - 05/29/2016:  07:43:36


Janet has addressed an issue that I had planned to look at (and still may).I realized that, even though this tune's time signature is 3/4, it is not a waltz. And, even though Jan's tab has 8 measures in the A and B parts, I thought that it would not work for our contra dances since the tune would not transfer into the 32-measure structure the dances need. It looks like Janet had done that analysis. Nonetheless, it is a cool tune to learn and play. And I find it a welcome addition to my tune list. As I suggested in my earlier message, our fiddle enjoys finding unusual tunes form other cultures to learn and, when they are suitable, add to the contra dance tune list.



David


bhniko - Posted - 05/30/2016:  10:57:27


Thank you all...deilghtful music, playing and introduction to a new instrument.


janolov - Posted - 05/30/2016:  22:57:34


A little funny observation: You try to make a contra dance out of the Slängpolska. When I started to learn about the slängpolska I took some common dance tunes (for example Cripple Creek and Old Joe Clark) and made slängpolska of it.


janolov - Posted - 05/30/2016:  23:01:03


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

 

Another interesting, delightful Swedish tune from you, Jan Olov!  I was able to easily play your clawhammer tab, but thought I'd understand Slangpolska's timing and cadence better by pursuing it further.  I came up with a tab in 4/4 timing that has 12 measures in the A part, including a crooked measure, plus pick-up notes. The B part is straight with 12 measures.  The European feel of the tune for me comes from the way the melody moves.  It reminds me of compositions by Irish bard and harpist Turlough O'Carolan.  The melody is extended internally, much in the way as a conversation might be spoken when a person embellishes his thoughts within a sentence.




I enjoyed the nyckelharpa, too, and will think of it as the "Swedish fiddle."  Thanks for this unique TOTW.  




 







Thanks for this recording. It is really nice. I think you must have some ancestor from Sweden on your genealogical table. 


bohemian - Posted - 06/01/2016:  07:10:12


In the mid 1970s to the early 1980s I built nyckelharpor.  4 Row . Birch backs  sides and neck and keys, spruce top.  I still have my own hand drawn plans.



 



My grandfather emigrated from Sweden to the US in 1914.



 



Thanks for all the information.


John D - Posted - 06/08/2016:  09:57:11


I'm late to the dance but here's my CH take on  Byss-Kalle’s Slängpolska.  Such a cool tune.  Thanks to Janalov for posting it.




Byss-Kalle’s Slängpolska

   

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