Gammaltnymalt means, roughly, “old newly-painted.” This concept serves as the name for a new exiting Norwegian folk music trio. And it is also the name of the record that won them this year’s Norwegian Grammy award in the folk category.

Listen to excerpts from Gamaltnymalt (2005)
Listen to and download Gamalt Nymalt releases here

Gamalt Nymalt (foto: Odleiv Apneset)

The name’s juxtaposing of old and new denotes the essence of this project’s musical idea. Consisting of some of the masters of that most spellbinding and alluring of Norwegian traditional instruments, the Hardanger fiddle, Gammaltnymalt is an effort to further explore and deepen the expression.

Inspired by the dynamism and sonic superfluity of the old-school Hardanger fiddle trios of the 30s, Gammaltnymalt seek to take that rich and compelling sound one step further. And in a radical way; starting with altering the instrument itself and thus shifting the sonic nature of the music. For the first time in the history of the instrument (one believes) a fifth, deep bass string was added to the traditional four on some unique exemplars made for the trio by fiddle makers Olav Vindal and Magne Straume.

The result is a darker more ominous timbre, adding layers of mysticism to the crisp, silvery sonority of the traditional instrument. With these new tools in hand the trio set out to rework selected traditional tunes, subtly changing the colouration towards more primal, dark and perhaps uncanny moods, and thus displaying anew the full potential of a trio of such uniquely sonorous instruments. As their record label describes their music: “It is music never before heard, from instruments never played.”

No wonder the Grammy award was bestowed upon the subtle audacity of Håkon Høgmo, Sigrid Moldestad and Einar Mjølnes.

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