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October 2008 · Bimonthly

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In 2006-2007 I wrote a series of four articles for Fiddle Sessions about the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle. Now, here is a fiddle tune that can be played on both Hardanger fiddle and regular violin.

The title in Norwegian is Eldgamal brureslått. It is a halling (a reel-like tune – S.P.) in huldre (or troll) tuning. (Note the tuning pitches provided at the beginning of the transcription.) The source for the original transcription in the Hardingfeleslåtter Volume II, is Anders Sagen, Kyrkjebø, Sogn. Sogn is a long fjord on the west coast of Norway where both Hardanger fiddle and regular fiddle are played. Anders Sagen learned this tune from Rognald Berge in 1846 who learned it from Anders Hagen, known as “Gamlehagen” (old Hagen). He had told Berge that this was a very old tune that went back hundreds of years to the Middle Ages. It was a tune played after the wedding party had left the church and was arriving at the farmstead where the festivities were to take place for the next several days. It was played until everyone was seated at the feast table.

[The following is adapted from the preface to Norse Fiddle at the Wedding Music Book for Hardanger fiddle or Violin, by the author of this article. This book is a companion to “Norse Fiddle at the Wedding,” (2005 Solgård, CD-SOL005) (Norse Fiddle at the Wedding, track 10).]

I notated the transcriptions for Hardanger fiddle, but such that a violinist might also play these tunes. While studying Norwegian wedding music sources for Hardanger fiddle and ordinary fiddle, I became aware of just how similar the music styles and ornamentations are. Norwegian Hardanger fiddle teachers, most notably Vidar Lande, have mentioned this fact in passing at Hardanger fiddle workshops over the years. Especially in districts on the edges of Hardanger fiddle territory, fiddlers may even play both instruments. More frequently, Hardanger fiddlers play tunes originally made for ordinary fiddle. And, players of the ordinary fiddle often use ornaments, and even alternate tunings, similar to Hardanger fiddlers. The ordinary fiddle merely lacks the sympathetic strings that give the Hardanger fiddle its characteristic sound.

Some essentials on notation:

The first transcription is the vocal piece from where the fiddle setting derives. The fiddle notation begins with the string tuning, here (low to high) AEAC#. When writing music in alternate tunings, it is standard practice to write the notes as they are fingered, not sounded. For example, when reading notes transcribed for the lowest string (usually tuned to G on violin), the notes are written one whole step below the pitch actually sounded (printed G = sounded A). The same system applies for other strings with altered tunings.

The harmony notes are written with smaller noteheads so a musician may choose to play only the melody if continuous double-stops are a challenge. The whole point of this music is to make the wedding a joyous and memorable event, so successful performance is the ultimate goal!

Norwegian folk rhythms frequently use a quarter-note, eighth-note pattern with a triplet feel. I use the notation adopted by the Hardingfeleslåtter editors.

Please play all repeats. They are not usually optional, especially in dance forms. Repeat signs are used for the convenience of notation. Obviously, when playing a bridal march for a procession, the tune may end at the first convenient cadence.

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About the Author

Karen Solgård’s Hardanger fiddle performances include centuries-old tunes from rural Norway, more recent “old-time” music popular in Norwegian American communities, and her own compositions and arrangements. Her web site is See for her CD’s. More information about Hardanger fiddle can be found at

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