The last three years.

27 07 2014

I have, as is apparent, neglected this blog the last…years. Facebook and other platforms became more efficent outlets for writing, and family and work and music is taking up much of my time. I have a new website with more updated content here:  www.silkwood.se

Anyway, what have I been up to since? Here are just a few things:

* The musical landscape. Since last post I started working full time as an archivist – and (at least temporary) stopped working as an archivist! This new path takes me further into the academic world: My day job is now all about writing a doctorate essay in ethnomusicology, working title “The Musical Landscape”, about music politics, place and regionalization. I have a PhD position at Umeå University but is positioned at Visarkivet in Stockholm. It is a wonderful, challenging and interesting thing to do where I get to learn new things each day and meet amazing people.

* Ulrika Bodén Band. I’ve accompanied Ulrika Bodén (Ranarim) on a few occasions before, among others at the Umefolk festival 2009. She’s an amazing singer and very pleasant to work with. So of course I was very pleased when a few years ago she asked me to play in her new band. Fantastic musicians are involved including drummers Petter Berndalen (Gjallarhorn, Rythm of sweden, Ranarim) and Valter Kinbom (Hir, Arash mfl) , fiddler Mia Marin (MP3, Nid) and Emma Ahlberg (Ahlberg Ek Roswall), amazing guitarist Mattias Perez (MP3) and trumpetist Gustav Hylén (Groupa, Hoven Droven). We released the album Kärlekssånger (Folk Love Songs) summer 2013 and have toured and played concerts quite a bit since.

ulrikabodenband

* Det rätta barnet . Together with my friend Anders Peev, a great keyed fiddler, guitarist, sound engineer and fellow human being, I composed and recorded music for a documentary film project called “Det rätta barnet” (The right child). It is a great movie that portrays the lives of two families who has children with downs syndrome. We made the music in a dreamy, folky style with nordic mandola, keyed fiddle, vibraphone and other instruments. On that subject, “real” vibraphone must be the hardest instrument in the world…we barricaded ourselves in a music school with our recording equipment one afternoon and started playing and figured it would take the afternoon. 3 in the morning we had recorded…something, but still had to add some midi sounds to make it sound right…

Daniel spelar vibra

Albatross

I started playing with fiddler Caroline Eriksson and Magnus Lundmark. Here’s a video we recorded spring 2014:

Lutes of the world: Hungary – Sweden

When playing at the TFF Rudolstadt 2009 as part of the Magic Lute project, I met Geza Fabri and Tünde Fabri-Ivanovich. There was something so awesome about the way they played their hungarian tunes that made me 1/ want to play with them and 2/ think that it would fit great with the swedish folkmusic crowd. So we applied for a grant to get them over here, and last year we finally got some funding! So in October 2014 they will come and play with me and Anders Peev in a few venues all over Sweden. It will be great!





7 great things about 2010

22 01 2011

I know, it’s a bit late to write a new-years-summary, but what the heck. Below are both personal and musical highlights from last year. Looking at it like this I can’t help but wondering what the coming year will hold. Whatever it is, I look forward to it.

  1. Got married. Yepp, in June I got to take the love of my life, Linnéa, to be my lawfully wedded wife. We had a nice non-religious ceremony and a great dinner and party afterwards. It rained, but we didn’t mind.
  2. Finished my studies. After two years of long-distance study (well, plus my studies at Umeå University 1998-2001. Yepp, I’m old) I can now call my self a schooled archivist with a degree in ethnomusicology.
  3. Recorded and released an album. Pettersson & Fredrikssons third duo-album ”Sotali” was finally released in summer 2010. It was long overdue, but I’m glad we didn’t rush into it. In the end, I think the album turned out really, really great and it is probably the one production I am the most proud of in my whole musical carrier. It is also the most ”indie” of all our cd:s – we recorded and released it without support from a record label, but with lots of help from great friends and outside-the-box thinking.
  4. Got a ”real” job. In August, I started working as a record keeper at the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education. It’s a great place to work with interesting people, I enjoy it a lot. While this does give me less time to focus on music, it also gives me the luxury to only focus on musical projects that I’m really passionate about.
  5. Toured europe. In November I took some time of from work and went playing with the Magic Lute Project. It’s such a great ensemble, and I’m proud to be a part of it. The last day we spent in Athens. It was 25 degrees celcius and felt like summer. I picked an orange from a tree and put it in my backpack. When I got home, we stuck dried cloves in it and hung it with a red ribbon in the window.
  6. Moved to Stockholm. After living most of my life in the northern parts of Sweden, with just a brief detour to Falun, I have now moved with my little family to the big city. The decision had grown over time and was made due to many reasons – the work situation being the most prominent.
  7. Went to Ireland. For many years I nurtured a dream to visit Ireland. I even got in touch with a university about doing post-graduate studies in ethnomusicology there, but never got around to it. But now, as an unexpected bonus of my new job, I got to go with my department to Dublin in October! Hotspots: Cobblestone bar (a great musical experience, and a future blog post) Clannagh Records (awesome cd:s), Kilmainham (great guide, horrible place), The Pigs Ear (Best Cheesecake Ever, avoid ”bag of sweets”), the long room (Potteresque).




Pettersson & Fredriksson: SOTALI

8 07 2010

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After years of work, the folkduo Pettersson & Fredriksson’s third album is released.

“Sotali” is an old and odd word from the village of Kalix in the far north of Sweden. It is normaly used to denominate a lazy person, a sloth who just sits around all day. But it can also be interpreted as someone who “actively does nothing”. A zen-like, contemplating calm. We felt this went well with the feeling of the album.

Please have a listen to it through the player above or go to petfred.bandcamp.com . We have financed and released this album ourself, without a record label, so if you enjoy it we would be honoured if you purchased a download – or even better the physical CD. The CD comes packaged in a wonderful unique digipack which you just have to see! Plus, the digital download is of course freely included! Go to petfred.bandcamp.com to purchase a digital or physical copy. If you’d rather than using paypal, VISA or other online payment method would like to send us cash for a cd, that’s ok too. Contact us at sotali@silkwood.se for more info.

Finally, our deepest thanks to these people and organisations who have made this album possible: Erik Hasselgärde, Patrik Öberg, Christoffer Lundström and Johan Bergström at Upsweden, Frida Sjöström, Alice Pole Richard Ka,Thomas Blomberg at Turmalinen, Nisse Johansson at Ballerina Audio and probably a bunch of other people who I am not remembering right now.

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Mandora summit 2010

22 04 2010

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A while ago, I made a post about my main instrument the nordic mandola. As a complementary instrument I use another little known, 5-chorus plucked folk-instrument. Like the nordic mandola it’s a modified version of a historic instrument which has evolved alongside the second wave of nordic folkmusic. Still, very few people play the instrument. Yesterday five musicians and three instrument builders met up in Upplands Väsby to discuss the past and future of the mandora.

Like the nordic mandola, the modern history of the mandora has revolved around a musician. But where Ale Möller brought a preference for steel strings from the greek bouzoki, Totte Mattsson from the band Hedningarna came from the world of early music. He was a skilled player on renaissance lutes but wanted something simpler, less strings and something which went well with the Swedish style of music. In a book about old musical instrument he saw an image of the base-lute mandora, also called gallichon. He then had an instrument builder make a new instrument based on that very image.

The instrument turned out to have amazing qualities both as a base-instrument and as a melodic bearer. So Totte started using it in different bands and also – which is where I met Totte and the mandora for the first time – as a teacher at the folkmusic course at the Conservatory of music in Falun. I was a student on the nordic mandola at the school when Totte introduced me to the mandora. I loved it from the start. It complemented my other instrument in a perfect way – where the mandola is bright, clean and crisp the mandora is an ancient sounding instrument with jagged edges in terms of sound. At the end of the school year, I had already made an order with instrument builder Per Sandström.

A few others had already started playing the instrument, and other students later followed the same route – so it seemed the Swedish version of the historic instrument mandora had started to get a small following.

The emphasis in the last sentence should really be on small. There are around 15 instruments made, and we are 6-7 people who uses the instrument regularly (surprisingly, one in Japan!).  So it was nearly the whole population of swedish mandora players who met up in Upplands Väsby. Those who attended was Totte Mattsson, Gunnar Lingegård, Sven Åberg, Henrik Björlind, Per Sandström, Lars Jönsson,  Ola Söderström and myself. Yepp, Ola is the luthier who made my nordic mandola. The reasons for his involvement here is mostly that we used his café Gamla Apoteket as meeting spot, but being the great craftsman he is he also had some insights on different aspects of the mandora.

And many different aspect of the instrument was covered – how it’s made, tuned, stringed, fretted, played and so on. A long discussion was that of what to actually call the instrument – it looks like a historic mandora, but is tuned, stringed and played very different from it. There were many suggestions – “låtmandora”, “låtluta”, “nordic mandora”, “gallichon” and (although jokingly) even “Tottophone” . We didn’t agree on anything though. My suggestion is actually to just keep calling it “mandora” or simply “lute”. A cool thing is that Henrik Björlind is writing his master essay about the mandora! It will be very interesting to hear what he comes up with.

To conclude, it was a great meeting and a good start. We decided to try and meet up for a whole weekend the next time in a more project-like form.

If you are interested to know technicalities about the instrument, write a comment below or send me a mail. To get in touch with Per Sandström who is the one who makes these instruments, give him a call at 073-3809348 or mail him at info@klaver.se . He seems to be willing to take orders at the moment.

Mandorasummit2010

 

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Sotali session

28 03 2010

duo2010

Here’s the result from the photosession for Pettersson & Fredriksson’s upcoming album Sotali. The photographer is Frida Sjöström.





The nordic mandola: it’s not a banjo

25 03 2010

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Whenever I’m travelling people assume that my instrument (when in it’s case) is a banjo. It’s not. While explaining could be a great conversation starter, things tend to get complicated. At “well, to be precise it’s a theorbed 5-chorus octave mandolin” I usually will have lost them. There was a time when I considered just making a sticker to put on my gigbag that says “No, this is not a banjo”. Now I can just give people the link to this post.

So, what is it?

To be nerdy, it is a theorbed 5-chorus octave mandolin. It looks like this:

mandolaadin8

Terminology
Since calling something a theorbed 5-chorus octave mandolin is, to say the least,  lenghty it goes by many different names: nordisk mandola (nordic mandola), låtmandola (fiddletune-mandola), bas-cister, swedish bouzouki. I usually just call it mandola or, as the title suggests, nordic mandola.

According to english wikipedia, the mandola is the ancestor of the mandolin (which name simply means “little mandola”).  The mandola/mandolin distinction has a potential to mess with peoples heads because of the similarity with the viola/violin terminology. A viola is tuned a fifth below the violin. An octave violin is tuned an octave below a violin. So if a mandola is tuned a fifth below a mandolin, why do we at all use the term “mandola” for these instruments when it’s tuned an octave below a mandolin? I’m not sure, but it probably has something to do with the  fact that what in the US is called “octave mandolin” usually has been called “octave mandola” in europe. The viola-tuned mandola is called tenor mandola.

So the term mandola can describe any fretted string instrument with pear-shaped body and flat back which is bigger than a mandolin. But, as wikipedia states: “The confusion will continue to reign for some time to come as the terms continue to be used interchangeably.”

History
I won’t go in to the history of fretted instruments, flat-backed instruments or even the mandolin family. There’s lots of info about that if you head over to google.

The history of the nordic mandola is rather short – it was developed by swedish multi-musician Ale Möller and luthiers Christer Ådin and Helge Ekvall in the 80s. Möller had been living in Greece playing bouzoki when he decided to return home and find the music of his own culture. He went to Dalarna to learn the traditional folk music which primarily is played by fiddlers. But he didn’t want to play the fiddle.

“I knew from all the other kinds of music I played that the instrument is just a voice. The music, the style, is the language. I tried to translate it into my instrument, the bouzouki. I found that it could be done. “But to do so required changing the instrument. The notes and tunings were obviously not the same, and he had a long series of instruments built, trying to find not only an instrument that could play the same scales as the music of Sweden, but also, as he put it, “an instrument that would have the right sound, the right feel.” He finally settled upon a mandola, an octave mandolin, that with frets added could play the quarter notes he needed to truly play the fiddle tunes properly. (quote from RootsWorld)

enteli


So that’s the story. Since Ale is a famous and influential musician the instrument found it’s way to more builders and musicians – among them myself. I still remember finding the cd with Ale’s band Enteli at the local record shop when I was in 9th grade. The album cover was a stage with tons of weird instruments, and in the middle was one which my eyes was drawn towards – the nordic mandola.


 

 


Tuning, pin point capos and theorbed base
The common tuning of the nordic mandola is, from the base string at zero-fret:

C G D A E

Most nordic mandolas has 5 choruses, with octaves on the C and G string.

But here’s the little peculiarity with this instrument. As Ale and Ådin/Ekvall developed the instrument, they found a need to be able to have different drones in the base. This led to the invention of something called “pin point capos”. The pin point capo is a little screw with a rubber packing on it which goes into holes drilled in the fretboard. This allows for shortening of single strings, and thus being able to change the base notes – without changing the tuning.  The base strings are usually elongated/theorbed so the lowest string goes down to A, and the second goes to F.

pinpoint1The point (hehe) with the pin point capos is that they can be put on any of the strings which allows for very cool open tunings – without changing the fingering. In example, if a tune goes in A I usually put a pinpoint capo on A on the second lowest string, and on e on the third. My open tuning then is A A E A E.  If I play in D I’d put the capos on D and a giving me a tuning of D A D A E . Pretty convenient and it can be a good source for inspiration to just make up weird tunings and play around.

This is an instrument that evolves and changes over time – people try different approaches to the capos and theorbed bases. In example, in Ådins latest creations he has theorbed the top string as well, going down to D.

Quarter note frets
As RootsWorld writes in the above quote, the nordic mandola usually has frets added to be able to “play the quarter notes […]  needed to truly play the fiddle tunes properly.” . Yepp, swedish fiddle players has this annoying habit of not conforming to the tempered western scale. So to be able to play tunes together with these stubborn fiddlers, we use quarter tone frets. This is of course totally optional – if you’d order one you would get to decide if, how many and where these should go.

How to get one
There’s no factory made versions of this instrument – so if you want one you need to get a used one or get in touch with a luthier.

Christer Ådin is a magnificent luthier who lives in Grebbestad. He was the one who developed the instrument together with Ale Möller.  He makes fantastic instruments. He has a long waiting list, so if you are interested you might want to get in touch as soon as possible.

Ola Söderström (OS Instrument) lives in Upplands Väsby and is an equally fantastic luthier.  My instrument is built by Ola, and I am very happy with it. Ola makes awesome and very reasonably priced instruments.

If you are interested in getting a nordic mandola of your own, I’d advice you to contact both of these builders – they are nice people, if occasionally a bit hard to get hold of. Before you decide to buy one I really think you should visit your chosen builder and try out some instruments.  For contact with Christer and Ola, click the links by their names above.

Here are three more builders who make mandola-like instruments. I don’t know these personally though:

Mats Nordwall – http://www.nordwallinstrument.com/
Tyko Runesson (nedan) –
www.runessonguitars.com
Heikki Rousu –
www.gitarrmakare.se

Video

My friend Bob Mills made nice demo vids of his instrument, enjoy them here:



 

Pictures

Finally, enjoy these pictures of the nordic mandola, courtesy of José Higuera, Christer Ådin and Paulina Holmgren. And whoever took the group-photo from the mandola camp at Hovra -03…

References

http://www.christeradin.se/SWE/Kontakt.html
http://osinstrument.se/
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandola
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandola
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ale_Möller
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cister
http://www.rootsworld.com/rw/feature/moller2.html
http://www.mandolincafe.com/archives/briefhistory.html
http://www.piping.se/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=4197&sid=80829aaf46bc1a1d0f28a8ce58c2b807

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