Virtuoso Hardanger Fiddle Music
Torgeir Augundson Øydgarden, known as Myllarguten (the Miller’s son), is the most distinguished Hardanger Fiddle player in the history of Norwegian folk music. He led an adventurous life, and he was the first player of traditional folk music to earn the respect of the contemporary cultural elite. He was the fiddler at numerous wedding celebrations. What are the distinct characteristics of Myllaren’s style of playing the fiddle? Myllaren had a large repertoire. He probably played most of the fiddle tunes (slåtter) from Telemark in his time. He learned, reshaped and transformed a rich treasure of fiddle tunes from the Western regions of Hardanger and Voss, both significant centres for the Hardanger Fiddle tradition at the time. Myllaren also created a large number of new fiddle tunes, but it is difficult to determine precisely which of the tunes he played were transformed and which were created by him. At any rate, the musical material coming from him is enormous. Subsequent players in the tradition have further developed much of this material. Myllaren established what was to become the most common system in the Hardanger Fiddle tunes; several small motives interlocking and inviting for improvisation and elaboration. Although this claim is arguable, it would be fair to say that Myllaren’s contribution consisted of developing and refining the system of interlocking and improvising tunes. He may have changed the beat in the special dancing tune telespringaren. His brilliant way of using the bow was also significant, especially the powerful and exuberant strokes.