‘Danmarks Rigsspillemænd’

Danish folk music group returns to PT

Posted 9/11/19

If the emotion of feeling cozy and at ease could be captured by sound, Danish folk music would be its likely medium.

“Maybe you have heard about the term ‘hygge,’” said Kristian Bugge, a member of Gangspil, a band from Denmark headed here that in November 2016 received a Danish Music Award in the category of Traditional Danish Band of the Year. “There is a Nordic coziness that comes from Denmark that books have been written about. In some circles, there has been quite a lot of hype about this word.”

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‘Danmarks Rigsspillemænd’

Danish folk music group returns to PT

Posted

If the emotion of feeling cozy and at ease could be captured by sound, Danish folk music would be its likely medium.

“Maybe you have heard about the term ‘hygge,’” said Kristian Bugge, a member of Gangspil, a band from Denmark headed here that in November 2016 received a Danish Music Award in the category of Traditional Danish Band of the Year. “There is a Nordic coziness that comes from Denmark that books have been written about. In some circles, there has been quite a lot of hype about this word.”

To Americans, hygge can be compared to Southern hospitality, Bugge said.

“That is something people have asked us about in the past and connected our music to.”

Gangspil is returning to Port Townsend after four years touring America. When they first came to the United States, Gangspil’s first stop was at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes about four years ago. Since then, the Danish folk group has toured extensively across the country.

“We always had a lot of fun together and finally decided to bring some of that on to the stage,” said Sonnich Lydom, who plays the harmonica and accordion for the group. “Now we’ve been playing and touring together for about six years. It’s been increasing excitingly with more and more activities in both Europe and North America.”

The group will perform at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at Quimper Grange # 720, 1219 Corona St.

Gangspil performs old dance tunes and songs from every corner of their Scandinavian home country, from rural islands to Copenhagen, including a few of their own compositions.

“We sing in Danish,” Bugge said. “A lot of the songs are instrumental, but we have a lot of old folk songs where people get to hear our exotic language” he joked.

In between songs, the group explains what each song is about.

“There are little refrains the audience can join in on even though they don’t speak Danish,” Bugge said. “A lot of the refrains have nonsense words in them. It is not just ‘tra-la-la’ but something people can usually pick up pretty quickly.”

The audience can expect everything from wild polkas and jigs to lyrical waltzes, fiery reels and happy hopsas, plus the exotic “Sønderhoning” dance tunes from the famous Island of Fanø, and long-forgotten songs from all over the country.

“Some of the songs go back probably to the 1700s,” Bugge said. “They are typically about the farmer and the blacksmith trying to get in touch with the miller’s daughter. That is the classic story. There is another about a farmer and a fox and how the famer caught the fox and the fox knows it is probably his last hour to live. Then the fox figures out how to run away.”

The songs could be labeled as fairy tales or humorous stories, Bugge said.

“It is not really sad stories in this case.”

For Bugge, the deep roots of this musical style were planted at a young age.

“I started playing the fiddle when I was 11-years-old,” he said. “It was my mom who got me started. She played the flute and piano and then she sent my sister and I to folk dancing when I was young. When I got a little older I started playing music too.”

To those not familiar with Danish folk music, it is similar to Irish folk music, Bugge said.

“It is related to Irish fiddle music and a bit to old time American music. Of course, it has its own little twists. It is pretty happy tunes, joyful dance music.”

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