Swedish Radio’s record production
Between 1949 and 1953 around thirty 78rpm folk music records were released by Swedish Radio – all produced by Matts Arnberg. The first was with Rättviks spelmanslag (a group of traditional musicians from the village of Rättvik, Dalarna), whose recording of Gärdeby gånglat was a real hit. The sales of this record helped to clear the way for more folk music records.
Most records consisted of folk music from Dalarna, but musicians from Skåne, Gotland, Uppland and Hälsingland were also featured in this series.
Among the earliest releases were records with other kinds of folk music. One record featured music from the summer pastures – cow’s horn, ram’s horn and birch-bark horn – and another the less-common instruments bagpipe and wooden whistle. Ture Gudmundsson played these instruments.
On the record with music from the summer pastures we also find the legendary herding calls from Transtrand with Karin Edvards and Elin Lisslass, recorded in the autumn of 1948. These were recorded in Dalarna via telephone to Stockholm, where they were directly engraved on matrices. These recordings were of great importance for research into summer pasture music and herding calls.
Three records consisted of chorales from Dalarna, performed by the Chamber Choir led by Eric Ericsson. These ornate chorales were in this case sung in unison – a departure from the previous norm for choir singing.
In the 1960’s Swedish Radio produced three extensive releases with folk music. All three can be said to be epoch-making, since nothing similar had ever been produced in Sweden – or even in other Nordic countries. In 1962 Den medeltida balladen (The Medieval Ballad) was released – 4 LPs and a book with commentaries by Matts Arnberg, Ulf Peder Olrog, Karl Ivar Hildeman, Sture Bergel and Nils L. Wallin.
Three of the LPs consist of traditional recordings of ballads, the fourth a reconstruction of ballad dance with singing by students at the folk high school in Ingesund.
In 1966, Swedish Radio produced the LP Locklåtar och musik på horn och pipa (Herding tunes and horn and whistle music). The first 78rpm records consisted of music from Dalarna, but here Arnberg presented herding calls and tunes from a number of areas with summer pasture traditions. This record also presented sälgflöjten (willow flute) for the first time – an instrument long believed to be extinct in Sweden.
1969 saw Swedish Radio’s greatest record venture hitherto – not only in folk music, but in general. This was Jojk, a presentation of the music of the Sami people in the form of 7 LPs and a book. This was the first time that records of Sami music were available in Sweden. Since this was a relatively little-known song genre, hard to understand for many people, a thorough presentation of the material was provided – a book with 300 pages which comprised information on the recording journeys, texts and comments in both Swedish and English. The producers were Matts Arnberg, Håkan Unsgaard and Israel Ruong.
The fieldwork consisted of two recording journeys in 1953, and in 1954 the recordings were edited and minuted. Yet 15 years passed before the recordings of joik found their way to the gramophone.
Matts Arnberg continued producing folk music records for Swedish Radio in the early 1970’s. The 1970’s also witnessed a new interest in folk music – the so-called ”folkmusikvågen” [folk music wave]. Increasing numbers of folk music records were released, and Swedish Radio was no longer the only producer. Both established record companies and newly-started companies which specialised in folk music satisfied the needs of those interested in folk music – and still do today.
A number of the Swedish Radio records have later been re-released by Caprice Records. It is also possible to listen to the first records online via Svenskt visarkivs catalogue of Swedish Radio’s recordings of folk music.