Skip to main content

Dra na' gambält över de': Modality in swedish folk music


This seminar is part of the musicology text seminar series HT2020. It will cover two (incomplete) chapters from my dissertation, which has the working title "DRA NA' GAMBÄLT ÖVER DE': MODALITY IN SWEDISH FOLK MUSIC". It is a history and criticism of the concept of Mode / Modality in Swedish folk music.

10 Dec 2020
15:00 - 17:00

Netta Hibsher
Good to know
Please contact Netta Hibsher if you would like to participate. The link to zoom will be provided upon registration.
Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg


Prof Tobias Pontara (head supervisor)

Prof Emeritus Karl-Olof Edström

Dr Karin Larsson Eriksson


Although music theory has not been a very central theme in recent folk music scholarship in Sweden, some music-theoretical subjects have had a certain significance in folk music education and musical production. In particular, the idea that older or indigenous layers of the repertoire are characterised by “older tonality”, or modality, has been able to inform performance and composition. Although ideas on mode in relation to Swedish folk music are not uniform, the application of modal terminology tends to assume a stable concept of mode, as in the binary opposition between modality and tonality.

This study seeks to de-naturalise the concept of mode in the context of Swedish folk music. It aims to do so by tracing and analysing the development of different notions of modality since the very beginning of music-theoretical discussion of Swedish folk music in the early 19th century and onwards. It offers a close reading of each of these ideas in light of its contemporaneous music-theoretical premises, focusing on the music-theoretical assumptions each concept conveys, and on its relation to the existing musical practice. It then proposes to look at modality in Swedish folk music as a construct rather than as acoustic or compositional property. Modality is then discussed as an open concept, emphasising its aspects of emergence and acquiring of cultural value, and reflecting on its regulative force within musical production.

The seminar will be held in English / Swenglish.