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Three people play Hardanger fiddle, viola d'amore, and Nyckelharpa.
Northern Resonance: Jerker Hans-Ers, Anna Ekborg, and Petrus Dillner, perform in the Library of Congress Whittall Pavilion, March 7, 2024. Photo by Stephen Winick.

Homegrown Plus: Northern Resonance

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We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus series with Northern Resonance, a Scandinavian string trio rooted in traditional folk music. As usual for this series, you’ll find a concert video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore. Northern Resonance perform traditional and newly composed roots music on a previously untested combination of instruments: Swedish viola d’amore, hardanger fiddle and nyckelharpa. They combine Scandinavian music with explosive rhythms and grand chamber-like arrangements, taking folk music in a new direction. The members of Northern Resonance are highly skilled and accomplished musicians. The three instruments they play are all bowed stringed instruments, and they all make use of sympathetic strings. The sympathetic strings are not played by the musicians, but vibrate due to their proximity to the bowed strings, providing the “resonance” of the group’s name. With these unusual instruments and their lively tunes, Northern Resonance delighted our audience in the Whittall Pavilion on March 7, 2024. See the concert in the player below!

In the interview, I talked with all three members of the group about their careers as musicians. Jerker Hans-Ers (whose nickname is J.J.) is the group’s hardanger fiddler, and he explained how he took up the unusual Norwegian instrument.

A man plays an ornate fiddle
Jerker Hans-Ers (J.J.) of Northern Resonance plays hardanger fiddle in the Library of Congress Whittall Pavilion, March 7, 2024. Photo by Stephen Winick.

Anna Ekborg Hans-Ers, who plays the viola d’amore, clarified that the Swedish version of the instrument has five strings (as opposed to seven on the classical version), while Petrus Dillner explained some of the mysteries of the keyed fiddle known as the nyckelharpa. We also touched on music education in Sweden, and the importance of music within families and regional traditions. And, of course, we discussed the band, their musical ideas, and the ups and downs of their career. See the interview in the player below!

Collection Connections and Links

A man plays a Swedish keyed fiddle, or nyckelharpa.
Petrus Dillner of Northern Resonance plays nyckelharpa in the Library of Congress Whittall Pavilion, March 7, 2024. Photo by Stephen Winick.

The American Folklife Center has many online resources related to Scandinavian music and culture. Find some of them below!

Concert Videos

AFC’s concerts of Norwegian and Swedish fiddle music with the Berntsons, Andrea Hoag and Loretta Kelley

AFC’s concert and interview with Swedish singer Emma Björling and guitarist Petrus Johansson

AFC concert and interview with Spælimenninir, a pan-Scandinavian group from the Faroe Islands.

Field Collections

AFC’s Chicago Ethnic Arts Collection (1977) has materials from several Scandinavian communities:

AFC’s W.P.A. California Folk Music Project collection (1939) also has Scandinavian songs and music.

AFC’s Montana Folklife Survey Collection (1979) includes Norwegian traditions, including photos and recordings of Hardanger fiddler Anund Roheim.

Wisconsin Folksong Collection, 1937-1946. In the 1930s and 1940s, Sidney Robertson Cowell and Helene Stratman Thomas spearheaded collecting efforts in the Midwest. Copies of their recordings went to both the American Folklife Center and the University of Wisconsin. They are now online at this link on the UW website.  We recommend you use the browse feature to browse by language.  You’ll find over 50 Scandinavian folksongs and tunes, including Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian material.

The Botkin Plus blog featuring folklorist Jim Leary’s lecture and interview on AFC’s Midwestern field collections includes audio of Scandinavian music, plus Jim’s commentary.

A woman plays a large fiddle
Anna Ekborg Hans-Ers plays Swedish viola d’amore in the Library of Congress Whittall Pavilion, March 7, 2024. Photo by Stephen Winick.

Essays and Guides

Find guides to Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic collections at AFC’s Research Guides Headquarters.

Find an essay about Swedish materials across several Library of Congress divisions at this link.

Find an essay with embedded audio of Swedish American Song at the Performing Arts Encyclopedia.

Find an essay with embedded audio of Icelandic American Song at the Performing Arts Encyclopedia.

Thanks!

As always, thanks for watching, listening, and reading! The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress. The idea of the Homegrown Plus series is to gather concert videos, video interviews with the musicians, and connections to Library of Congress collections together in one place for our subscribers. (Find the whole Homegrown Plus series here!)

Three people hold musical instruments over a gilded sign reading "Library of Congress"
Northern Resonance in the Library of Congress Great Hall, March 7, 2024. Photo by Stephen Winick.

For information on current concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress.

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