The beauty of Norway’s willow flutes and songbirds

Hans Fredrik Jacobsen – Svadilja (Heilo, 2022)

Prominent Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Hans Fredrik Jacobsen focuses on the delicious sounds of the willow flute on his fifth album, Svadilja. Indeed, Jacobsen was drawn to this instrument from an early age, and he became an expert player as well as a skilled flute maker. He actually made a video showing you how to make a willow flute which you watch here.

Although “Svadilja” is a solo willow flute recording, it is a captivating album, full of charming melodies made with seven unique willow flutes, of different lengths, using various keys to generate variations. Additionally, Jacobsen recorded this album in a forest, surrounded by fellow musicians from the natural world. As a result, Jacobsen’s sound engineer captured the beautiful songs from a wide range of birds that you can hear on the album.

To create the appropriate atmosphere, the recordings were made in Krokskogen (eastern Norway), during a few pleasant and calm sunny days between May and June 2021, with Audun Strype soundproofing the entire project.

Selected material includes traditional willow flute pieces, as well as Jacobsen’s own compositions and adaptations of traditional material. All songs were recorded with a cool willow flute, made by Jacobsen, accompanied by birds, insects and the forest environment.

Hans Fredrik Jacobsen recounts the experience: “The silence during the recording made the birds and insects pass with the flutes. It was wonderful to play alongside them! Even though they weren’t active all the time, I had a clear and warm feeling that they were responding to my music, which in turn was uplifting and touching. And I answered as best I could when they sang for me! One of Norway’s foremost bird experts, Helge Kvam, listened to the recording to try to identify the birds present. He found 21 different species. They all contributed to making the experience in Krokskogen strong and unforgettable.”

The physical format of this album, released on CD, is highly recommended. It includes a thick booklet with song information, willow flutes and bird details.

List of tracks:

  1. I skogen 1:34
  2. Skromt 2:46
  3. Nøkken dancing (trans. Marius Nytrøen) 1:22
  4. Video 3:16
  5. Kom mai / Vil du koma til Rinden (WA Mozart / trad e. Eivind Groven) 1:18
  6. Seagull I Munn 1:40
  7. Gammal krok 1:59
  8. Grom 2:38
  9. Isterviepipa (trans. Marius Nytrøen) 1:25
  10. Intro Svadilja 1:13
  11. Svadilja (trans. Ingeborg Hansen) 1:27
  12. Outro Svadilja 1:56
  13. Kyrja (trans. Marit Holmen) 2:22
  14. Kvivlemøyane (trans. Eivind Groven) 2:41
  15. Until 4:07
  16. Intro Molldur 1:09
  17. Moulder 1:02
  18. Outro Molldur 0:59
  19. Intro Kuvisa 1:13
  20. Kuvisa (trans. Berit Vang Moen / Tone Hulbækmo) 2:18

You can buy the limited edition CD on Bandcamp. Learn more about Hans Fredrik Jacobsen

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music for many years. He founded the sites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel is also co-founder of the Transglobal World Music Chart. Angel has also produced and remastered world music studio albums and compilations for labels such as Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts and Music of the World.

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