Jacqueline Pattison Ekgren
Founder and head of Ekgren Musikkinstitutt, Oslo: voice workshops, performance of all genres, concerts, and research; published complete songs of Andreas Haarklou (4 CDs and book of music) 1996. Recent publications:
• 2009 “Dipod rules:…”, Versatility in Versification. Multidisciplinary Approaches to Metrics (Dewey, Frog, eds)
• 2011 "Norwegian Stev: The Dipod and Pure Accentual Poetry", Current Trends in Metrical Analysis (C.Küper,ed).
• 2012 Toner av Aksel Berg (T.Berg, Ekgren, eds)
• 2013 "Implications of Accent Patterns in Norwegian Stev: Old Norse Hávamál to Hip Hop", Proceedings, XVI Nordic Musicological Congress 2012 (ed. Derkert) [next-final electronic edition]
• 2014 "The Two-pulse 'Dipod' in Norwegian Stev, When Sung", Symposium "The Phenomenon of Singing 2011, Canada. [Online].
The Smallest Unit of Poetry: the Stev Two-Pulse?
How could over 25,000 stev texts from Setesdal and Telemark in Norway survive through centuries, when fewer than 50 (fifty) special melodies exist for performing stev? There appear to be a number of factors.
According to the customary definition, a stev is an independent stanza of 4 metric/poetic lines, having 4 poetic accents per line in the newer type (nystev) and 4,3,4,3 in the older (gammelstev). Research seems to show that this definition hides the salient fact that both types of stev build upon a tiny unit or building block of poetry, a two-pulse system accenting the two main words in a phrase. (Gammelstev 3-accent lines employ a single accent and two-pulse.) Although foot-tapping need not be present, when it is, it occurs only on the poetic accents which are on word/lexical accents of "main" words in the phrase.
The two-pulse gives room for individual differences, especially in the second part of the two-pulse: the 2nd part tends to be longer even up to nearly 5 times as long, as found in Setesdal and documented in film. The traditional performer fills the two-pulse "word-mold", fitting textual and melodic phrase together seamlessly. Thus, in performance the melody is shaped by the text and its poetic accents, instead of text following a melody with a steady beat.
Vocal workshop: Learning Norwegian stev, from core concepts to performance
The workshop allows participants to experience through practical exercises how the irregular meter in Norwegian stev melodies follows the poetic accents in the texts.
The workshop has a refreshing hands-on approach with practical vocal exercises demonstrating the basics of the irregular, yet surprisingly predictable, meter found in the two types of Norwegian stev: nystev (so-called "new stev", possibly from around 1223 and later) and gammelstev, ("old stev", from before 1223). Even seasoned traditional kvedarar (traditional performers, singer-reciters, of stev) may gain a supplemental approach for understanding, performing and teaching stev.
The workshop is based on original research showing that Setesdal and Telemark kvedarar, performing Norwegian stev (kveding) seem to use a meter that is irregular, i.e. without a steady beat. This irregular meter in Norwegian "stev" stanza, seems to follow a predictable pattern, more akin to accentual poetry than to free verse. Film analysis reveals a flexible system using a basic unit of a two-pulse often marked with foot-taps.
The two-pulse, essential in stev, also indicates various relationships with other genres in kveding repertoire and song style. Examples from modern music with irregular meter with predictable two-pulse patterns will also be presented.
Similarities between stev and Old Norse folk poetry will be mentioned, as well as factors which may explain the survival and success of what some researchers consider an unbroken oral tradition over 1000 years.