Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Translation On Memorial Day

(See the You Tube below for the song Varvindar Friska. ) My mother was a talented piano player all her life and there was music in the family. This is a picture that looks very much like my mother's Uncle Eric - my mother's farbror Eric - in one earlier photo he is even shown with a violin. But his real instrument was the accordian. In the late 1980's I began to copy down sheet music with a whistle. In Minneapolis I found a plastic Yamaha recorder and began a first song translation from a song book my mother had left. I started with Vårvindar friska - as it happens, there are renditions of this song on You Tube.

There is one by Ingrid Bergman in a Bing Crosby movie that shows that folk music is experienced in intimate, very small groups. Then there is one by singers of today that express that folk music is experienced in very large groups - folk music has always been experienced this way, and has always even been played privately by one person alone.

The notes on staff are shown at the site, My Scandinavian Folk Music -

Vårvindar friska leka och hviska

lunderna kring likt älskande par.

Strömmarne ila finna ej hvita

förr är i halvet stort vågen far.

Klappa mitt hjärta klaga och hör,

vallhornets klang bland klipporna dör,

ström karlen spelar, sorgerna delar

vaken kring berg och dal.

(Winds in the spring dance play and whisper

Groves into circles paired into lovers

Streams whirl thoughts unsettled

soon in the dusk we take on a wave.

Hold back with heart's lament and hear

horns of spring echo and clang in the rocks

Streams tell the people that sorrow's watches

wake round the mountain and field.)

The words are appropriate for Memorial Day. They are meant for Valborgsmassoafton, an evening of celebrating and bonfires just before May 1.

Yesterday I put flowers on my mother's Uncle Eric's grave. I knew Uncle Eric. Uncle Eric died in 1957. I took my bike to that cemetery along a few miles. And I thought about the versions of the song I had been listening to on You Tube.

These are songs in Swedish. My mother's mother was from Finland, but from the minority that speaks Swedish. The national poets of Finland often write Swedish, but extol and support the self-identity of the Finland Nationals, who speak Finnish. Here is a song by Varttina, years ago Scandinavian Hour began to feature pieces they recorded. They are from Finland but sing in Finnish.

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