Førnesbrunen (excerpt), played by Høye Kvåle, form after Håvard Gibøen (Kvåle & Smedal, 1992, track 16)

Førnesbrunen  (excerpt), played by Gunnar Dahle, form after Ola Bernås Kvåle (Dahle & Dahle, 2009, track 10)

Førnesbrunen (excerpt), played by Einar Løndal (Løndal, 1994, track 10)

Førnesbrunen (excerpt), played
by Jørgen Tjønnstaul, 1937 (from the archive of the Norwegian Folk Music Collection)

‘When the Miller played at Mogen in Høidalsmo in 1864, he played ‘Langedragen’, and he played it again nine times in nine different profiles, that he created just there’. (Berge, 1972, p. 169, my translation)

'The slått is built upon a variation practice. There is a variability in the playing that is apparent in different degrees and ways by different fiddlers, from those who render closely to their masters, to those who build the slåtter anew, planned or spontaneously. Tellef Kvifte describes ways fiddlers add variability; as variability with note material, introducing new motifs, taking out motifs, variation in bowing figures, varition in ornaments, and the different patterns these elements are used'. (Kvifte, 1978, pp. 53-58, my translation)


'One might imagine two extremes on the scale between much and little variability, and I will try to describe fiddler types that correspond to these two extremes. On one side we have the ‘variating fiddler type’. I imagine that he remembers the slått more as a set of rules or playing patterns than as a chain of notes. … The musical basis material comprises a set of motifs, and a set of possible variations of the motifs. In addition, with help from certain of the rules, he can make new variations when feeling the need for it. … While playing, the fiddler will continuously make choices between possible continuations.  … To be able to conduct such a type of playing in a musically effective way, it demands that the fiddler knows the musical material in and out. However, the ‘non-varying fiddler type’ could be imagined without such a deeper understanding of the musical structure of the slåtter. … But it turns out, that also among the ‘non-varying’ there are fiddlers that function on a very high level. That is the type that works in thorough detail with their slåtter until they have received a form that lies as near as possible the idea of ‘the best form’. This fiddler type also has the equivalent understanding and concern of variability phenomena as the varying type'. (Kvifte, 1994, p. 16-17, my translation)

'To simplify the issue, we can say that the fiddlers divide between those who want to keep the local traditional playing school, and those who try the Miller-coloured playing, that is, a much more personal interpretation of the slått motifs, without being afraid of losing the local colour. … There is great difference in how much the fiddlers vary. Some might play the slått so to speak note by note the same way every time, while other vary a great deal. But also those who do not vary have knowledge of several ways of variation. Often they worked a lot with every single slåttto come to a form that they think is good. … The easiest is to vary the number of part repetitions in a performance and the number of times the motifs are played in each part. But also the motifs can be varied. The fiddler might have some planned variations. When he plays, he can decide some of these variants without using all of them. Also, the chain of variations can be different every time. But there are also techniques of variation to be used. Then the fiddler doesn’t have to remember all the variations, but use a universal technique to alter the motif. Such techniques might be, for instance, changing the bowing in a certain way, changing the note sounding together with the melody note or altering the melody itself. … Often, a motif will not come back in the same form. The fiddler can vary small details in melody, bowing and drones … In some slåtter the motifs in the different parts are so similar that it can be difficult to distinguish them from each other, especially when the fiddler in addition to this vares the motifs in every part'. (Bjørndal and Alver, 1966, p. 53, pp. 113-114, my translation)

















Eight note examples of the beginning of Førnesbrunen (Aksdal & Nyhus, 1993, p. 314).

Morten Levy’s illustration of how he understands the fiddlers’ complex variability patterns in the performance of rammeslåtter in Setesdal (Levy, 1989, p. 101).