Finland and Åland 1957–1958
Radio Sweden and Svenskt visarkiv had cooperated since the early 1950‘s in making recordings. They used the Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research’s information in order to perform a systematic search to find areas in which they could record songs from an older tradition.
Some of the islands in the Åboland archipelago had a particularly strong song tradition, which had been researched by Ulf Peder Olrog of the Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research. Olrog and Matts Arnberg contacted the folklorist Alfhild Forslin in Åbo, and she agreed to perform the time-consuming task of searching for the tradition bearers whose songs she had noted down together with Greta Dahlström in the 1920’s and 30’s. Alfhild Forslin recounted these preparations in an essay in Budkavlen 1958: Radio Sweden’s Magnetophon Recordings of Swedish Folk Music in Finland. It began with Matts Arnberg’s planning trip to Åbo:
“In September 1957 he visited Åbo to see if he could find assistants, since he now wished to act upon his plans. With lots of energy and an infectious implicit faith he began making the preparations, primarily under the auspices of the Sibelius Museum at the Åbo Akademi University. When Arnberg had returned to Stockholm, Professor Otto Andersson allowed a newspaper notice to be published. Greta Dahlström and I sifted through our notes on informants from between 25 and 35 years ago – which of these might we assume to be still alive? At the same time it was a case of contacting, with the help of pen and telephone, people in various localities who might help us to get in touch with singers and musicians.
We felt it to be of great importance to get in touch with Greta Dahlström’s gifted singer Svea Jansson of Nötö, who when still young in the early 1920’s had sung a great number of ballads from her mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s repertoire. Svea should now be in her fifties.
But where was she? On Nötö they had lost contact with Svea around 10 years ago, but thought that she was on Åland. With the help of the police in Mariehamn we combed the whole archipelago for people who bore or had borne the name Svea Jansson, and thus the right Svea was finally found in Jomala, Andersböle.”
So Svea Jansson was found, and she travelled to Åbo for recordings which began on the 17th. of November. And she turned out to be an even more phenomenal traditional singer than was previously thought. She frankly said ”I know more than 1000 songs”. Radio Sweden and the Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research finally recorded between 700 and 800 of these songs.
Svea Jansson’s songs are not only numerous, they are also remarkable in the sense that many of them represent the tradition of the 18th. century with but a single intermediary – since she learned a number of her ballads, jocular songs and cradle songs from her maternal grandmother, Eva Gustava Jansson (born in 1842). Eva Gustava had in her turn leaned her songs from her maternal grandmother, Caisa Eriksdotter (born in 1786) of Hitis.
On this first occasion, Svea Jansson sang around 40 songs. In addition to Svea Jansson, 45 other tradition bearers were recorded in two weeks in Åbo and the Åboland archipelago, in Nyland and in Österbotten. Most of these represented the older Swedish song tradition in Finland.
A complementary recording trip to Åland took place a year later, during which Matts Arnberg recorded a further 106 songs with Svea Jansson.