I just love the sound of the nyckelharpa together with the pipe organ. This new CD from Olov Johansson and Anders Bromander arrived in the post this morning from Sweden (though if I’d waited, Olov might have some at the concert in the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh on Thursday). I couldn’t wait though – it’s on the CD player at the moment. Fantastic!

Track 6 is the tune from Olov’s “Storsvarten” (track 5), Ockelbogubbarnas favoritpolska, which sent shivers down my spine when I first heard it – just a wonderful sound.

Peter Hedlund

Another fantastic Northern Streams festival well and truly underway! Today I attended three great workshops, the first with the brilliant Peter Hedlund (featured photo) who taught us three great tunes. It was great to see and hear Peter’s “number 3” nyckelharpa, built in Kjell Lundvall’s “Nyckelharpverkstan” in Söderhamn. This workshop with Peter alone had four nyckelharpas present – I believe the largest number in one room in Scotland, ever! There have been five at the festival – one of the V-Dala Spelmanslag has one as well.

Harpacam photo of my nyckelharpa, with Pete and Fion Rigg up at the festival from Cumbria.

After lunch I attended the Swedish singing workshop taught by Hannah from V-Dala Spelmanslag where my Swedish from last year’s course was pretty useful – enjoyable singing too. For my last workshop I attended the tunes and accompaniments session taught by the Fika Collective which was also very useful in terms of trying harmonies.

We had a session where all the groups shared what they had learned – so you could see what groups you couldn’t attend had been doing – and then had a nice impromptu session afterwards before the hall was rearranged for the evening concert.

The concert featured Peter Hedlund, Paul Anderson and Shona Donaldson, and it was a delight to watch the masters of their respective crafts. I was also really pleased to hear the story of Peter’s tune “Fläckpolskan”, which I could never understand as “spotty polska” – it’s a polska he composed when put on the spot! A great tune that I love to play, too.

Addendum – live video on Facebook from Channel7A.

We left before the ceilidh started – dragging our tired old selves back home. I’m sure they will have had a great time.

Also posted to:

Bike at Porty beach

Glad to be back on the bike again. Touring Edinburgh anticlockwise for a change as I wanted to pick up some concert tickets (Väsen) on the way out. Hard going into the wind at times, and part of the cycle track on the way back is under repair, resulting in some navigation by guesswork. Legs beginning to give up at about 40km – will get out again soon. #notbeforetime #headwind #PortyBeach

It must be Scotland’s summer – they were selling ice cream at Cramond
Also posted to:


Over the weekend it was great to meet up again with some of the fine musicians who go to the sessions at the Steam Packet Inn in Isle of Whithorn. Fortunately the nyckelharpa is welcome there, and although I usually do some drone accompaniment for most of the jigs and reels, I am increasingly finding that I can play more tunes on the nyckelharpa. They are also happy to play Swedish tunes and have even brought one or two into their repertoire.

The photo teaches me a lesson – not to leave my little session friendly camera two stops underexposed when I have been playing with it for other things. I’ve done the best I can with tweaking and will try harder next time!

Also posted to:

Right – I’ve downloaded my data from Facebook (or at least, what they have packaged as my data). The intention is not to post “blog” style stuff there anymore, but to post there from here should I feel the post is worth sharing to the Facebook audience.

no Facebook

I have been with Facebook about 6 years – I first set up an account as it was the only way I could access up-to-date information from the Scots Music Group when I started my fiddle classes. I was ultimately discovered to be lurking there by family, and hey, I couldn’t really say I didn’t wan’t to be their friend, so I ended up with more there that I had really intended. I have effectively put blog posts there for a few years, but have never been very happy about it; I have always considered it to be an awful piece of software (as you may have read in some of my posts) and I have finally decided to move back to my own proper website. I will still use Facebook for the groups that I am a member of, since they are (for the moment) a good way of communicating with those groups. I will also continue to use Messenger as it works pretty well (though presumably analyses every last word for monetisable information).

Having done a lot of DuckDuckGo-ing 🙂 recently I’ve realised that I was part of the indieweb before it even thought of itself as existing, so it’s definitely time a dinosaur like me got back there.

There are still plenty changes to be made to the websites I’m currently looking after for myself (as opposed to those I look after for other people!), so Watch This Space, and those that it is linked to.

As you can see we have moved to WordPress. You may have seen the previous website in its temporary state but everything there has now been unpublished and it will soon go away.

Blogging will recommence here Real Soon Now!

(updated 11 April 2018)

This year I had booked on to a course at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival – I took the lever harp along to Susan Syverson’s “Swedish Stew” and learned that Swedish tunes actually go pretty well on the harp. I also played in the “Scratch” concert on the last afternoon – about 103 harps plus a few other instruments. A lot of fun, playing easier parts of course – I’m very much a beginner on the clarsach!

lots of harps
The Swedish fiddlers rather outnumbered by the harps at the Scratch Concert rehearsal

I also got along to a couple of concerts and several sessions – though I took the nyckelharpa to the sessions, and it was great to play with the Swedish group there, as well as with the harps. Great fun as always.