Ballads have the triple advantage that they
- tell stories,
- usually have burdens (omkväde) which everybody can join in, and
- can easily be accompanied on harps.
The occurence of objects called “harps” in many ballads may serve as justification why we so often include ballads at Nordic Harp Meetings. An example of this is the ballad of Svend Vonved (DgF 18): Most Danish versions ofstart with Svend Vonved playing a harp (click for all 74 stanzas as sung on the Faeroe islands).
The same basic ballad has often versions in many different countries and languages. Yrjänä Ermala points out that the story of the “Cruel Sister” (another “harp” ballad) is a good example of this: Listen for instance to the version of Ranarim and Malinky, blending the Swedish “De två Systrarna” and the Scottish “Cauld Wind and Rain”: They make a perfect blend! Other ones that might be worth trying are, for instance:
- Herra Petteri / Herr Peders Sjöresa / Peders sørejse / Brown Robyn’s Confession (Child 57 or 24)
- Haamu ja Marjaana / Sweet William’s Ghost (Child 77) / Der tote Bräutigam
- Morsiamen Kuolo / Kärestens död / Lord Lovel (Child 75) / Jungfer Dörtchen
- Vesmanviiki / Sven Svanevit / Svein Svane / Svend Vonved / Tragemunds (Child 1,2,3,46,47,78), also a bit like The False Knight on the Road.
- Pommerin piika / Flickan som trampade på brödet, a story of a vain girl who sooner than getting her shoes dirty, use a loaf of bread as a stepping-stone, after which the earth swallows her…
- Vareksen laulu / Den stora fågeln / Kråkvisan
- Pieni Katri / Liten Karin (the story of St. Catherine in the spike barrel)
- Velisurmaaja / Sven i rosengård / Edward (Child 13)
- Elverskud / Herr Olof och älvorna / Olav Liljekrans / Ólafur Liljurós / Roi Renaud / Ann aotrou Nann hag ar Gorrigan / Heřman a Dornička / …
There are, of course, lots and lots of others, related or not, and all of these would be welcome! Please tell us if you are coming and willing to share a groovy story with the others.