We were deleting various ’favourite’ Internet links from a computer we don’t anticipate using for much longer earlier today – or rather, we were deleting them but making sure that the links went through to one of our e-mail accounts. Funny how this kind of chore is not much different from the centuries-old act of tidying up a physical room – you always get sidetracked by stuff you didn’t know existed.
But in this case, we were glad we got sidetracked and re-connected with some truly beautiful Scandi folk tunes, having only paid them cursory attention in the past. As such we thought it was only right that we should share them (and again give our readers unfamiliar with sheet music an educational nudge in that direction if they want to immerse themselves in Scandi culture in dot and stave format, so to speak).
It never ceases to amaze us how many Scandi tunes in a 3/4 time signature completely bypass the conventional waltz idiom (or indeed most other known 3/4 idioms) and manage to be as fluid and elegant as they are idiosyncratic and emphatic. The word pols or polska so commonly applied to such tunes is both simple and piercingly evocative on a sentimental and intellectual scale. These are tunes good enough to be part of the classical canon but it’s more or less impossible not to think of evergreen forests and rapeseed fields listening to them. Maybe the mere word pols/polska does something similar to Proust’s madeleine in one of the most celebrated novels of them all – or it plays the Scandinavian equivalent.
Here’s a Rørospols from Norway, the B part complementing the A in classy fashion as a series of quavers and then two audacious triplets in one bar (get you) break from the more pronounced feel of the first bars of the A part. We would note that this tune is available via both FolkWiki Sverige, the link for which we’ve given above, and via the BlueRose site site put together by Karen Myers – both of these sites being excellent resources for Scandi music in their own right.
Same kind of thing going on in this Polska från Uppland, but an indication that Swedish folk music is certainly not an entity evolving parallel to developments in folk music elsewhere in Europe. The first part is classic Swedish polska, the second swoops into a minor key but with a good deal of subtlety. For some reason this seems more redolent of Eastern European dances or chamber music from the 17th century onwards. Polskas often sound like a variation on chamber music – but chamber music that sounds like it might come from a few hundred miles to the south? That’s impressive.