The CD features two of our most prominent, young folksingers. Both of them come from Telemark. Ingvill Marit Buen Garnås grew up in a family where folksong was a natural part of daily life. Jon Anders Halvorsen learnt the traditional songs from old singers in Telemark. In addition he studied vocal folk music at the Ole Bull Academy, at Voss.
Old proverbial songs possess a central position in the CD repertory.They follow the style of ballads, epical folksongs from the Middle Ages. Some of the songs have roots in Old Norse poetry. It is also worth noticing that the oldest songs may have parallels in traditional poetry of distant countries and cultures, like for instance in India.
The proverbial songs are often connected with nature. Answers to riddles come from the sun, the moon or the rainbow. Or they might come from the thunder, the ice, the fire, the river, the grass, - or from leaves, horses, fishes and swans. In some of the songs, old beliefs and customs are clearly discernible, so it is obvious that we are concerned with a remote age. We do not know who fist composed the songs or where they originally came from. “Grønalihei” (“Greenhill”) and similar names often occur in the refrains. The Reverend and folklorist Magnus Brostrup Landstad read “Grønalihei” to mean “the earth”, – i.e. the place where we human beings live ( Norske folkeviser 1853 , i.e. “Norwegian Folksongs” 1853 ).
Ingvill Marit and Jon Anders also sing fragments of other folk songs from the Middle Ages – ballads of proverbial or dreamlike character. Also in these songs images from nature preponderate. They also sing short folksongs, called “stev”, which often are presented like a dialogue (stevleik, i.e. stev game). The stevleik tradition also dates back to the Middle Ages, - confer the so-called “gamlestev” - i.e. old stevs. Old stevs are still in use, but for the last two centuries, “nystev” ,i.e. new stevs, became preponderating. The latter have a more distinct rhythm and often sound more cheerful. They could also be lyrical, but mostly they reflect an audacious and humoristic mood. The two young singers on the CD also have included a few songs for children in their repertory. Full of fantasy and striking melodies, these songs fell naturally into the presentation.
All melodies used on the CD are traditional melodies, except one composed by Jon Anders and one composed by Knut Buen. Otherwise, Ingvill Marit has made melodies in the traditional style for two lullabies. Some of the tunes were learnt directly from old singers, others from recordings made shortly after 1900 or from written transcripts dating back to the last decades of the 19th century.
Most of the songs on the CD are rarely used today, even by folksingers. Thus, Ingvill Marit and Jon Anders have attemted to save a tradition from oblivion. All songs are presented without accompaniment of other instruments.