Trip to the Faeroes 1959
In 1958 Matts Arnberg planned a Swedish-Norwegian-Danish recording expedition to the Faroe Islands. Arnberg was at the time a member of the International Folk Music Council’s radio committee, where he had proposed that they should do joint recording exhibitions to areas with undocumented folk music traditions. He suggested that the first such expedition should be to the Faeroe Islands. The aim was to document the unique ”kvaddansen”, a singing dance tradition with medieval roots still going strong on the various islands.
The Danish Radio was to take care of reconnaissance work and appointed the archivist Torkild Knudsen from Danish Folklore Archives and Thomas Alvad to prepare the recordings in situ.
The recording trip took place in February, 1959. In addition to the two Danes and Matts Arnberg, Rolf Myklebust of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation took part. The intention was that the BBC should also participate, but they opted out at the last minute. The technician was Gösta Wiker from Swedish Radio. The technical work was difficult: the heavy recording apparatus had to be taken between the islands by boat, as had the large accumulators, since not all islands had electricity – and there were other problems. They had to improvise by hanging microphones, sinces the singing dances were performed by up to 60 persons tightly threading their long dance line in cramped rooms.
The recordings were made during the time of fasting. This period was chosen since the male part of the population was home from the fishing then. The Faeroese Radio helped with contacts with the locals. Around 80 tapes, mainly with kvaddans, were recorded in 14 days. The material recorded has been used since for numerous programmes – amongst others, ”Att dansa är nödvändigt” (Dancing Is Necessary) a series of programmes by Arnberg in which he focusses primarily on the social function of the kvaddans.
Recordings from the journey to the Faeroes