A PLAY WITH TRADITIONS // BUDSTIKKE // THE MYTHICAL
In folk art, the ‘unknown’ and the mythical are closely present, taking form as (super)natural and magical creatures and forces. In the folk songs, they venture into people’s lives. In the song about Liti-Kjersti and the Mountain King, the Mountain King gives Kjersti three seeds of the type villarkorn (a part of the juniper that is created from galling which, in folk belief, has magical power) so that she enters a trance where she forgets earthly life. In the rammeslåtter, the fiddle could be taken over by the unknown forces:
'The oldest legends about slåtter as dance music, we find in the ‘Bósa-saga’, that is supposed to originate from the first half of the 14th century. ... The Bósa-saga says that when they carried in the last memory bowl, which was devoted to Frøya, the musician tuned a string on the harp that he hadn’t played on before. Then he asked the King to prepare for the Rammeslagr slått. It was the wildest and ugliest of all the slåtter. The King, the bride and the groom had sat watching until now. But when the slått sounded, they were thrown into the unruly swarm, and no one danced rougher and wilder than them. ... Probably ‘Rammeslagr’ was the name for ecstatic slåtter. ... Olav Faremo from Setesdal said: ‘If I come on to the ramme slått, you have to take the fiddle away from me.’ About the Vardal gypsy Peter Strømsing it was told that he ‘came on to the ramme slått. He fiddled like he was stone mad, and it never ended. So they cut the strings off. Then he cried.' (Bjørndal and Alver, 1966, pp. 105-106, my translation)
Rammeslått 1 (excerpt), played by Sigurd Brokke (Sandén-Warg & Brokke, 2007, track 26)
Sven Nyhus was in many years collector for the Norwegian Folk Music Collection, and he says that some of what clearly remains in him after all his visits to the homes of fiddlers and singers, was how they always mentioned people in the hills and other creatures as a completely real part of every day:
'Amongst the Telemark people, ‘hill people’ was the expression, in the Eastern valley I heard talk of the ‘beneath-earths’. The author Falkberget and his Røros neighbours called them ‘the little people’ and ‘the little men’, but in Engerdalen and in Fron, they talked especially about the ‘hulder’ (wood nymph). I talked with several who stubbornly claimed they had met her. Redvald Fjellhammer at Hundorp had her in his bed night by night, and in 1970 he thought it would soon be an engagement. His ‘huldr’ was the daughter of the greatest huldr king north of Dovre.' (CD-cover of Nyhus, 2015b).
Runarvisa (excerpt), sung by Kirsten Bråten Berg, about Valdemann saving Magnhild from the ‘nøkk’ by ‘runing’ the harp (Berg & Bjørgum, 1999, track 8)