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Accordion festival with a Key Harp in Sweden

I admire passion: People who are devoted, engaged and very much involved in their hobbies or interests. Some weeks ago, when our blog friend Tor and wife Anna were visiting our vacation home at Mariestad in Sweden we experienced just that. I mean, you don’t need to share their interest, but are carried away of their enthusiasm. As always, I love to share my adventures with you and hope you get as much of a kick out of it as we did:

We are talking about Mariestad Accordion Festival from Friday to Sunday, in mid July. Hundreds of people gathering with their instruments and well over 50 motorhomes. Let me give you an idea of the atmosphere (click all pics to enlarge):

AccordionFestival2008 #1 AccordionFestival2008 #3
Look at the sun light – I’ll get back to that later :-)

I’ve dug into information about the Accordion – always want my readers to learn something from my post and I learn too – lets put it in the Scandinavian frame:
The accordion is a hand-held bellows-driven free-reed aero phone family, sometimes referred to as a squeezebox. The basic form was invented in Berlin in 1822 by Friedrich Buschmann. It is often used in folk music in Europe, North America, Russia, and South America and is commonly associated with busking (street players, you see them in the streets of Oslo too). It came to Norway from Sweden in the mid 1800s. I took a video with my Nicon CoolPix S2 for you to enjoy the atmosphere:

Some were sitting outside their campers in groups while others were organizing a band to perform:
AccordionFestival2008 #2
Notice the sun set to the right. The time was 9:30PM: Long Scandinavian evenings helps to the spirit :-)

A video from their performance too:

Btw: Can anyone see who is dancing in the background?

I mentioned passion and have saved the best for last. Walking around I spotted a strange instrument and the man holding it was inspired by my interest and gave me an interview:
AccordionFestival KeyHarp
He had made this Key Harp himself!

A Key Harp, keyed fiddle or Nyckelharpa in Swedes is a traditional Swedish musical instrument. The oldest indication of Nyckelharpa playing is a relief near one of the gates to Källunge church on Gotland from about 1350 and he meant it was from mid Europe back at the beginning of the 1200s. Its keys are attached to tangents which, when the key is depressed, serve as frets to change the pitch of the string. He told me there where a lot of good players of that instrument in Norway as well. He willingly gave me a demonstration, a real scoop which I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you:

So this is what I call passion in a traditional folk music atmosphere. Is there anyone who wants to join us at the festival next year?

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  1. What a great scoop, Honey! As you know I always say that accordian music is happy music! You can really see the folks in the videos having a great time. Music should be about feeling and experiencing, not selling! Love it!

    I do agree my dear, and you know what: The very best was to experience the whole together with you!

  2. Dear friend, both Anna and I were happy we went to this festival. Not so much due to the music, but the whole atmosphere. To watch and study this special form of Vacation: Travel from festival to festival with people sharing the same interests. Like a huge family.
    Thanks for sharing.

    btw. Mine will be posted as soon as I got time. Just now it’s important to post for Anna and my kids who are not here where I am.

    I know Tor and it was great to experience it with the two of you!
    btw. I know you are in the US with family and really enjoy your post about it!

  3. I’ve never seen that harp before. How unique. Looked like a fun evening/night to me. Thanks for sharing. You just don’t see accordions around here. Have a great day. Big hug to you and Diane. :)

    Me either, but have heard about it. Then to meet someone who have made it himself was amazing.
    Well, have a great week and hugs back :)

  4. Oh what fun this is! And yes I know the two dancers! LOL! I would have been right up there too! Yes, I admire those with a passion. I think it comes in many shapes and forms.
    My passion? Dackels!!!

    Glad you could recognize the dancers! LOL! and I’m sure you would fit in well for a dance!
    Yea, passion comes in all shapes and forms and yours was no surprise ;-)

  5. There’s something so fun about the accordion. What a fun evening this must have been.

    I think so too: brings you in a happy mood.

  6. I would too Renny to soak in fun, festival, culture almost everything :D

    I knew you would love it – so see you next year then :D

  7. that key harp was really and unusual and interesting looking instrument. i’d never heard of it before. i think my favorite thing though was seeing diane and anna dancing. such happiness.

    The instrument was soooo fascinating Lime!
    Glad you could recognize the dancers too – hope you too can join one day!

  8. I LOVE acordian music! That was one of the first things that I thought was so cool when I moved to Sweden! Have you seen Sverige Kampar? I had to laugh when I saw the crew that was chilling out with the motor home and chair audience!

    I like it when performed live in surroundings like this too.
    Never hear about Kampar, sorry.
    The crew was so casual and nice.

  9. Cool! I always wanted to do something like that. It will definitely be on my “to do” list from now on!

    Great – do it then – and keep us posted!

  10. You are such a charmer…now, again, I ask…where did you find the portable electric grill? I have tried Clas Olssen and even El Giganten…?

    Thanks for the compliment Gina ;-)
    Sorry I did not answer you last time; The truths is, I don’t know as it came with the apartment. It’s probably brought there from Norway.

  11. Fantastic!! what a great passion and wonderful sound! never seen/heard a key harp before!

    Glad you liked it too Mar and I think that key harp was a scoop too.

  12. Awww this is soooo interesting! Thanks for sharing it with us. I enjoyed the photos, narrative and videos, excellent stuff!

    You know I love that kind of compliments to my post and gladly share of course!

  13. I love attending these events… and this one would be so kwel as I Iove accordion music (some great Finnish accordion players) and folk music.

    There is a great blue grass festival about an hours drive from here, every summer. I’ve only been once ( with a friend) but haven’t been since as I don’t drive and you need a car to get to the farm that hosts the even.

    I havent looked your videos, yet, but I will when I get a few minutes.

  14. There is something rather wonderful about listening to live music. Even music I don’t normally enjoy is given added energy and becomes special when you hear it played live. In addition, add the synergy of large groups of people all playing together and you have something quite magical.
    As an example, I don’t particularly enjoy miltary band music but when I used to see one of the army bands marching and playing through the streets when I lived in Windsor (where the Queen lives sometimes at Windsor Castle) I used to get a huge lump in my throat – it really moved me. :-)

  15. Too fun! I bet you guys had a great time…I have never even heard an accordian in real life being played…. till the video!

    Loved it!

    Have a great rest of the week

  16. My father used to play a small squeeze box and if we had a party someone would bring out a guitar, father his squeeze box, my aunt her ukelele and we would have a singalong. Great stuff.

    I’ve never heard or seen a key harp before…what a fascinating instrument. Thank you for improving my education…wonderful post, Renny.

  17. Oh wow Rennyba !! Thats a lot of fun , where i live here in India i really feel upset coz none of these things happen here , we dont have such awesome parties :( and i aint big enough to travel on my own to some other country !

    As soon as i grow up ( Legal to travel )

    I will come to your country and have fun with you :D

  18. Thanks for sharing this beautiful event with us. I love accordion, specially the new compositions when it is mixed with modern melodies. But I like folks songs too and i think it is very important to preserve our culture. Nice to see for the first time this marvelous instrument. I couldn’t see the videos, sad but I’ll come a little later hopping to see them. Sounds Mariestat is a nice place. With many, many animations!

  19. Wow – that looks like so much fun to join in! We are going to many festivals as we visit Vancouver Island for a long weekend. It will be a lot of fun, but I don’t have much time for blogging at all. Oh well. It will be great to be away too!

  20. And they all look (and sound!) passionate about their music!
    I don’t mind accordion actually, it reminds me of summer outdoor fun.

  21. I would have loved to go there and witness the festival. I actually like the sound of accordions. They can make you want to dance, feel romantic, melancholy, and so on….

    I like it too and it gave exactly those feelings.

  22. This brought back so many happy memories of my pianist Mom who also played the accordion on her “mission” trips. When Dad preached at places without a piano, Mom took her accordion (movable piano) with her. Also, my daughter took accordion lessons when she was almost too little to hold one in her hands. And she was good! I love it. Especially the dancing. :)

    Glad I could bring you some memories from your childhood and family – and thanks for sharing with us Ginnie!

  23. could any one help me please iam looking for accordion lessons near windsor in berkshire . i used to play when i was 10 years old but now im 40 i have forgot everything and i have just come across my old accordian in my mums loft. please can someone help.

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