I hope with this blog to collect and give a little information on the musical settings of the medieval Scandinavian ballads.
These ballads have always been songs, ever since the unknown but early date of their undocumented origin (for the purposes of context, possibly around the 1300s). At some point, they may have been dancing songs ... the name ballad itself implies dancing, and certainly in the Faeroes there is a living tradition of ballad dance. But when the earliest manuscript notations of ballad texts were made, in private songbooks in Denmark and Sweden in the 1500s and 1600s, it was usually just the texts that were written down. The melodies were not usually recorded.
Later, with a revival of interest in the ballads as a result of national romanticism in Scandinavia in the 1800s, the majority of the ballad melodies we know were collected and written down. These include melodies from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway (also Swedish-speaking Finland, the Faeroes, etc). So for some ballad texts, no melody is known. For others, there may be one or more. And more than one ballad text may correspond to a single melody.
Much later still, just as a folk music revival was taking place in the English-speaking world in the 1960s and 1970s, with popular artists performing and reviving interest in some of the English-language ballads in Child's collection ... like Scarborough Fair, The Two Sisters, Tam Lin, Long Lankin, Matty Groves, and many more ..., so too in Scandinavia musicians began to experiment with settings for the medieval ballads, and made them popular again with the audience of the day.
When posting about a ballad, I will try to give copies of scores where possible, and also link to performances on YouTube where available.
I will probably try to post about once a month, and may also post about other things if there are other things to be said ...
You can find my books with translations of Scandinavian ballads here.