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Scandinavian Ballads

Shimmering 03 Jan 17 - 06:01 AM
Thompson 03 Jan 17 - 06:40 AM
Felipa 03 Jan 17 - 07:07 AM
Shimmering 03 Jan 17 - 08:33 AM
Shimmering 03 Jan 17 - 08:35 AM
Steve Gardham 03 Jan 17 - 03:42 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Jan 17 - 04:11 PM
Shimmering 04 Jan 17 - 05:19 AM
Richard Mellish 04 Jan 17 - 07:59 AM
Felipa 04 Jan 17 - 10:59 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Jan 17 - 05:12 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Jan 17 - 05:35 PM
Richard Mellish 05 Jan 17 - 10:02 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Jan 17 - 01:35 PM
Thompson 05 Jan 17 - 02:06 PM
Richard Mellish 05 Jan 17 - 03:46 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jan 17 - 04:35 PM
Shimmering 05 Jan 17 - 05:24 PM
Shimmering 05 Jan 17 - 05:26 PM
Richard Mellish 05 Jan 17 - 05:31 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jan 17 - 06:01 PM
Shimmering 18 May 17 - 03:51 AM
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Subject: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Shimmering
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 06:01 AM

Ballad fans may be interested ...

I have been translating a number of Scandinavian folk ballads --- the so-called medieval ballads. I published a third collection of these translations recently as The Faraway North. I have mostly been working out of Swedish, but The Faraway North also has quite a few ballads from Norway.

Here's the link to The Faraway North
http://www.northerndisplayers.co.uk/fn.html


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 06:40 AM

Nice! I couldn't find Unge Svedendal (of which Shimmering has a translation on Soundcloud linked on the page he quotes,
The Faraway North) as a sung ballad - is it online anywhere? Brilliantly strange images in it, like the maiden guarded by bears.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Felipa
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 07:07 AM

looks interesting, too bad there is no music included

you may like to see the Horpa discussion on Mudcat


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Shimmering
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 08:33 AM

For most of the earliest Scandinavian ballad texts to be written down, only the text was written down. But later melodies were often written down at the same time as the words. So similarly to ballad texts in English, for some there is no associated traditional melody, and for others there are one or more.

As for the ballad Unge Herr Svedendal, I don't think any melody is known. There are a few very similar Danish variants of this ballad (it's usually called Ungen Svejdal in Danish), and again, I don't think any melody is known for them either.

I've written a bit more on musical aspects of some of the Scandinavian ballads here:
http://balladspot.blogspot.co.uk/ with links to performances and so on.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Shimmering
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 08:35 AM

Horpa / De Två Systrarna is certainly interesting as it's probably the ballad with the closest correspondence (that I know of at least) between English-language and Scandinavian versions.

Others like Lord Thomas & Fair Ellender (Herr Peder och Liten Kerstin) or Willie's Lady (Liten Kerstins Förtrollning / Little Kerstin's Enchantment) obviously tell similar or very similar stories to those told in Scandinavian ballads. But although even some of the wording and imagery in these two ballads is expressed similarly in English and Swedish, the form of the ballads is different: the English-language ballads are both in four-line verses, whereas the Swedish ballads are in pairs of rhyming lines interspersed with chorus (omkväde) lines ---- the same form as The Two Sisters.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 03:42 PM

Hi Shimmering.
It is highly likely nearly all those ballads that correspond between Britain and Scandinavia were translated by ballad hobbyists, collectors and antiquarians in the 18th century. I suspect that Tvo Seostre was translated more than once before it entered tradition over here. Robert Jamieson was certainly translating Scandinavian ballads and including them in with Scottish ballads before the turn of the century. I strongly suspect others were at it too.

However, at least one of our ballads jumped into Danish tradition albeit briefly in the 1840s. I wonder if you can guess which one and how it got there.

I have all of the well-known English translation books like Prior, Borrow, Olrik, Dal, Grey and some of Grundtvig in Danish. Unfortunately I don't speak any Scandinavian, so your work is highly interesting to me.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 04:11 PM

I have ordered the book. Interesting Blog. I think all of the ballads there that are related to Child ballads the greatest likelihood is that the Scandinavian stories inspired the British ballads they correspond with, particularly 'Per Tysson's Daughters in Vange' and 'Babylon'. Okay there are obvious differences but the similarities go far beyond co-incidence. Even the ballad that links to Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor, the first British appearance is the English 17th century broadside. I'd bet that it is based on the Scandinavian story. The Scottish version is simply a rewrite of the broadside.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Shimmering
Date: 04 Jan 17 - 05:19 AM

Hi Steve, I know Grundtvig translated the Twa Corbies into Danish (as Ravnene). I've heard Folque's take on this song. Is that the one you mean?

It does seem very likely that such translation of ballads did take place. And yes, for something like The Two Sisters where there are as many variations in Scandinavian versions as there are in English, the idea of more than one interaction seems more likely than the separate evolution of storylines. But as to when and who, I daren't guess other than it must have happened earlier than the earliest documented date ...


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Jan 17 - 07:59 AM

Steve said
> However, at least one of our ballads jumped into Danish tradition albeit briefly in the 1840s. I wonder if you can guess which one and how it got there.

There's a whole (small) book about one such, presenting a convincing case that it started in Britain before turning up in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and even Finland in both Finnish and Swedish. I wonder if we're thinking of the same one :=)


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Felipa
Date: 04 Jan 17 - 10:59 AM

Steve wrote, "The Scottish version is simply a rewrite of the broadside." How do you know which version is older, which is a rewrite? (and of course a rewrite can then influence the original and you get another version from that)


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jan 17 - 05:12 PM

There are several indications but of course all evidence is circumstantial and I base my opinions on in depth study of this ballad and numerous others where a similar process has taken place. For instance Earl Brand (from the Danish) highly likely precedes The Douglas Tragedy. They are indeed separate ballads though Child chose to lump them together.
With LT&FE apart from the circumstantial evidence the English version was extant a good century before any Scottish versions appeared.

(and of course a rewrite can then influence the original and you get another version from that) Absolutely. This must have happened with several ballads.

Hi, Richard. I was referring to 'The Cruel Mother' which is in one of Grundtvig's books I have from about 1840. The ballad was then recorded in Denmark in tradition about 20 years later. There may well be other examples as SG's Engelske og Skotiske Folkeviser was published 1842-46 which included some of Buchan's concoctions. it would be fun to learn some of these got into Danish oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jan 17 - 05:35 PM

Not sure when Tvo Seostre first appeared in Scandinavia but I'd bet it was long before any versions appeared in Britain. I don't think it appeared on any broadsides which is often the reason for widely varying versions so I think it's quite possible versions were translated in Britain from different Scandinavian countries. Most British versions start out pretty similar but start to diverge when it comes to what happens to the body.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 10:02 AM

The ballad that I was referring to is Edward.

Bronson said "Archer Taylor has argued convincingly that the ballad passed from Britain to Scandinavia". The book is "EDWARD AND SVEN I ROSENGÅRD: A STUDY IN THE DISSEMINATION OF THE BALLAD", originally published in 1931 but print-on-demand from www.kessinger.net ISBN 1432569465. (But the title on the cover has "Rosengard" rather than the correct Swedish spelling "Rosengård".)

I find it amusing that Taylor quoted the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish words without translation, apparently expecting scholars to be able to read those, but provided translations of the versions in Finnish.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 01:35 PM

Hi Richard. I'm sure Ian can enlighten us more on this one. The spurious 'Edward' appeared over here somewhat miraculously in about 1770. If Sven I Rosengard predates that there can be little question about the direction of movement. Those few versions from genuine British tradition could easily be based on the literary Edward or even another translation in the 19th century.

Notoriously there are many examples of literary or redacted ballads being published and anthologised and then slipping quickly into oral tradition and quickly crossing language barriers.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Thompson
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 02:06 PM

Considering how central songs, lays and sagas were to our seafaring and land-wandering ancestors, I would be astonished if songs and stories hadn't threaded their way back and forth through and across the continents.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 03:46 PM

Hi Steve!

You said "The spurious 'Edward' ..."

Tell me more. Why is that any more spurious than a lot of other ballads that first appeared around the same time?

And have you read the Archer book? He builds his thesis on a number of points, but the general idea is to look at which elements appear in which versions. He also notes that the British versions seem to be set in the same landscape of lords and ladies with the their hawks, hounds etc as many other ballads, while the Scandinavian ones seem more about farmers.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 04:35 PM

Here we go again. Post vanished after submitting!

I'll try once more then I'll email you.

You're absolutely right, there were lots of spurious ballads and literary pieces floating about at the time and Percy was rewriting anything he could get his hands on. However this one was written by Dalrymple and sent to him. I don't know of any ballad scholar (past or present) who doesn't think it is a load of bollocks. 'landscape of lords and ladies'. This is neither here nor there. The OTT antiquified language is the give-away. If it is based on anything British trad there is no evidence at all for this. The few recently collected versions prove nothing. These could either stem from 'Edward' itself or they could come from another 19thc translation.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Shimmering
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 05:24 PM

I haven't read that book about the Sven i Rosengård ballad either. And I'm not sure I know much about this ballad.

But anyway... Geijer and Afzelius in Svenska folkvisor från forntiden (Swedish folk songs from ancient times, 1814) give two versions of Sven i Rosengård, both are from oral tradition rather than from old manuscripts. They also include translations into Swedish of The Two Brothers (from Jamieson) and of Edward (from Percy). They also write that there is no song corresponding to Sven i Rosengård in Danish. And also that it is a "fragment of a genuine ancient Scandinavian song"....

Arwidsson in Svenska fornsånger (ancient Swedish songs, 1837) also includes two versions of Sven i Rosengård from oral tradition, nothing from older manuscripts. He also includes a translation of an "older" Finnish version of this ballad, called The Bloody Son (Den Blodiga Sonen in Swedish). He too is keen to describe the ballad as incomplete versions of a "genuine Scandinavian folk song".

The three versions of Sven i Rosengård in Grundtvig (in Danish) are all from oral tradition as well, the earliest collected in 1844. However, he also writes this: that (as well as 11 more recent Swedish versions from oral tradition) he knows of a manuscript in poor condition with a "half-comic" version of the text in Swedish, 33 verses, from the 1640s, and that this is in George Stephens's collection.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Shimmering
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 05:26 PM

... but I haven't seen this text from the George Stephens collection ...


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 05:31 PM

> I don't know of any ballad scholar (past or present) who doesn't think it is a load of bollocks.

Child himself said "as spelling will not make an old ballad, so it will not unmake one". He didn't seem to regard Edward as a load of bollocks.

I am sympathetic to the view that what makes a folk song is not where it started but where it went. Wherever and whenever Edward was first put together, it certainly was taken up by singers, not least Jeannie Robertson. And all those Scandinavian versions evolved somewhere, whether in oral tradition, in broadside printers' shops, in antiquaries' collections, or some of each.

Archer is correct in pointing out the contrast between the hawk and hound ambience of the British versions (which might or might not have been artificial archaism) and that of the farmer tending a horse or foals in the Scandinavian ones, whether or not he is correct in concluding that the ballad travelled from Britain to Scandinavia. Bronson did seem to accept Archer's thesis.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 06:01 PM

Child was usually very generous with his comments but I think he somewhat eventually regretted his 'inclusive' policy. He must have been aware of how the ballad was considered in his time to have even offered such a comment.

I am in complete agreement with your view as you already know.

The fact that versions of the ballad were found in Scotland, Yorkshire, Cheshire and I think Hampshire in the 20th century have little bearing on where the ballad and its relatives came from in the 18th century. There are also big question marks over Lizie Wan and it's quite possible both were developments/adaptations from The Two Brothers.

'It appears to me that the most artistic and best-known version, first given to the world in Percy's Reliques, is a literary rehandling of the traditional song' Bronson.


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Subject: RE: Scandinavian Ballads
From: Shimmering
Date: 18 May 17 - 03:51 AM

Here comes the latest installment on my Scandinavian ballad blog: Little Kerstin the Stable Boy, in which a girl disguises herself and goes to work as a stable boy ...

Liten Kerstin Stalldräng


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