Byss-Calle stämman

On the third Sunday in August, the little town of Älvkarleby celebrates its famous historic nyckelharpa player: Carl Ersson Bössa, known as Byss-Calle, who lived from 1783–1847. His tunes are among the best beloved in the nyckelharpa canon.

I hadn’t been intending to perform, but it turned out that really anyone who comes with an instrument is encouraged to spela upp — so with a couple of very broad hints from Leif, I signed up for the last open spot of the afternoon. The rule is, you play three tunes, including at least one by Byss-Calle. Most people seemed to be playing in pairs or small groups. Fortunately our new friends Nils and Satoko, whom we met the previous week in Borås, were willing to help out, so I wouldn’t need to play alone. Though by the time our slot rolled around, we had become a band of 5 people. And also the festivities had nearly wrapped up, since it was raining by then and the interior space isn’t nearly as capacious for impromptu sessions (buskspel) as the entire lawn. Fortunately the performance space had shifted back under the shelter of the barn doorway. Also fortunately, the much diminished audience (only a few hardy souls with umbrellas) meant a diminished likelihood of anyone’s noticing I had just barely learned 2 of our 3 Byss-Calle tunes in the preceding half-hour. Though I’ve become quite fond of the newest one, which I have since been told is #38; I’ve not looked it up yet.

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