Traditional folk music lives through generations, and travels from person to person – it is a collective process of creation. At the same time, each song is formed by individual needs and ability – it is a legacy of listening and performing. Conservation, personal touch, active singing and playing, social sharing and transmission are decisive factors. The women who sang cattle-calls, ballads and lullabies were equally important bearers of tradition as were the instrumentalists, yet their names remain forgotten and unpreserved.
The three friends Edvard Grieg, Frants Beyer and Julius Röntgen spent their vacations in the Norwegian countryside, picking up songs that they brought back home to use in their music. They learned songs from women who worked in the trekking cabins in the Jotunheimen mountains and other places they visited during the summer. It is difficult to trace the identity of these women. The composers saw it as both a joy and their duty to transcribe the songs and share them with new audiences. Had these songs not been transcribed, they might have been forgotten, or at the very least become inaccessible to us. However, it presents something of a challenge to capture a living tradition on manuscript paper. There will always be something we don’t know about a song; its many variations and spontaneous elements won’t make it as far as the manuscript paper. The music is simplified.
The trio Løvlid/Hytta/Nyhus has shaped the folk songs into their musical language, seeking out common ground in a variety of sonic spaces and musical surroundings. Their approach to the material has been personal and directly linked to the many poignant life events in the lyrics. The material consists of sketches for improvisation – sounds, expression and form based on their associations and ideas – which has made every version of this release unlike the other.
«Grieg formed these songs in his own style, and we – Unni Løvlid, Anne Hyttaand Ingfrid Breie Nyhus – have done something similar. It is the tradition-bearers who are our common reference and most important source of inspiration. Our wish is to bring to the fore the women who sang these songs – or rather, the idea of who they might have been, the strengths they possessed».
Unni Løvlid is a versatile musician and artist with experience in a great variety of projects and genres in the region of Norwegian folk, contemporary music and electronica. She grew up with folk songs, and her interest in folk music was initiated by her mother who taught her about the traditional music of her hometown Nordfjord. She later studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music. Løvlid has released several solo albums such as So ro liten tull, VITA, LUX and Hymn, and participated in many other releases. Unni is known as one of the most exciting folk music performers around day, who dares to take traditional music to entirely new places, and has the creative imagination to do so. She has receieved several of awards for her music such as the Norwegian Grammy Awards for the release Draumkvedet by Arne Nordheim in 2007, and the same year she also receieved the Gammleng-award in the category Folk Music. At Folkelarm in 2006 she was named “Folk Musician of the Year”. She has toured all over the world, and today she leads the folk music study at the Norwegian Academy of Music.
Anne Hytta is a performer and composer of the Hardanger Fiddle, a fiddle with sympathetic strings and its own repertoire of traditional tunes. Her background is deeply founded in the highly distinctive playing style of the repertoire of traditional tunes for the Hardanger fiddle, and from this basis she composes and performs her own music in the solo performance Draumsyn, her trio Slagr or other ensembles. Hytta is participating in various projects including folk musicians from around the world, and also plays the medieval vielle in the duo SogeSong with singer Øyonn Groven Myhren. In 2006, 2007 and 2009 she received the Norwegian Government Grants for younger artists. She received the Norwegian Folk Music Award for best solo album in 2006, 2011 and 2017, and the Norwegian Grammy (Spellemannprisen) in the open category in 2015 for Slagr album “Short stories” and in the category of traditional music in 2017 for solo album “Strimur”. She was named the ‘Folk Musician of the year’ in 2018 at the Folkelarm festival.
Ingfrid Breie Nyhus is a Norwegian pianist and composer. Her work focuses on contemporary, (re)compositional and improvisational practices, often intertwining elements from folk, contemporary and classical traditions. She grew up in a folk music family, and made classical piano studies in Norway, Finland and Germany. For the last ten years, her work involves composition and improvisation, solo and in groups. Nyhus has received several prizes for her performances and recordings, such as The Norwegian Soloist Prize 2005, nominations for the Norwegian Grammy Spellemannprisen and the Norwegian folk music award Folkelarmprisen. In 2007 the recording ‘Grieg Peasant Dances op.72’ was awarded “Record of the Year” by the Great Britain Grieg Society. She has appeared as soloist with orchestras such as the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, the Trondheim Soloists, Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra and more. She regularly performs at contemporary, folk, classical and jazz festivals and scenes internationally.