Conceived and produced by Gordon E. Tracie
Featuring Gunnar Hahn's Folkdance Ensemble
Recorded in Sweden

Welcome to the world of Scandinavian dance!  Impulse for this production comes from Skandia Folkdance Society in Seattle, U.S.A.  Since its founding in January 1949 by Gordon E. Tracie, who studied in Norway and Sweden, the club has nurtured a keen desire for better Scandinavian dance records.  Four decades of cooperation between Tracie and prominent composer and arranger Gunnar Hahn, himself a folk dancer, have culminated in this unique presentation.

Gordon Tracie Picture

This double album is designed to be a compact survey of typical Scandinavian dance rhythms, illustrating the remarkable diversity of traditional music and dance from "the roof of Europe."  It does not purport to be ethnic in nature.  Many superb recordings of native Nordic folk music are already available for the connoiseur.  The intent of this production is to present representative Scandinavian dance music in a manner which can be immediately understood by the lay public, dancer and non-dancer alike, and which can  be just as enjoyable for recreational listening as for its original function, dancing.

From five Nordic nations comes this cultural material:  Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.  For the sake of artistic consistency, there is a prevailing classical style in Gunnar Hahn's adroit arrangements.  Yet special care has been taken to impart the essence of a particular land's own national character in each selection.  Even a casual listening will reveal that there is more than a single Scandinavian idiom.  Rather, there are several distinctively different folk musical styles: Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish.  The dissimilarities in the music are reflected in the dancing styles of the respective countries.  Significant differences also occur within the various cultures and, like languages, are referred to as dialects.

Traditional dance music, as defined here, concerns rhythmic idioms which predate the beginning of the twentieth century.  Nearly half of the tunes in this collection are of nineteenth-century origin, but the balance of the music dates back much further, spanning a period of many hundred years.  The oldest genre of Scandinavian folk and old-time dance rhythms is that generically known as polska, which can be traced to the late 1500's.  The most modern is the polka.

The traditional folk or people's dances of Scandinavia, in contrast to those of many other cultures, are predominantly "co-educational," requiring a partner of the opposite gender.  The relationship of the man's and woman's steps in these dances necessitates a strong, confident male lead.  More often than not, the dances involve turning as a couple, frequently quite fast.  Because of this rotation factor, the element of counterbalance with one's partner becomes of utmost importance, for it is that which creates the momemtum to give the dance a special exhilaration experienced only in whirling!

Organization of the material in this collection is based upon forty years of experience on the part of the producer, Gordon E. Tracie, in playing Scandinavian music and teaching traditional Scandinavian dance.  It is designed to serve a three-fold purpose:

As a listening experience:  Gunnar Hahn's tasteful arrangements of the many Nordic melodies are sure to please the most critical listener.  They aspire to bridge the gap between ethnic renditions and modernized re-creations of traditional Scandinavian dance music.  In addition, a diversity of rhythms, tempi, modes and instrumentation assures tantalizing variety.

As a learning tool:  The dances on each record are presented in ascending order of difficulty (starting with track 1), thereby enabling a beginning dancer to progressively acquire skills in essential steps and figures.  Taken as a whole, the collection provides a basic repertoire of representative Nordic dances sufficient to launch a Scandinavian folk dance group, from elementary to more advanced.

As a complete dance program:  Played straight through, these two records comprise an evening's Scandinavian dance party in themselves!  The selections are purposely programmed in an order to allow not only for a change of pace in both rhythm and tempo, but also for an alternation of function: i.e., individual couple dance, set dance involving two or more couples; and mixer dance with partner change.  In this way, maximum variety and balance in the dance programming is assured.


It is only within the past few years that the dances of Scandinavia have gained a general acceptance and popularity in the international folk dance movement in the United States and Canada.  Specialized camps have sprung up on both sides of the North American continent, and instructors and fiddlers from the Old Country are regularly invited over to teach their native music and dances to eager folk in their New Land.  Scandinavian dancing is now "in."  With this acceptance comes a special benefit -- the incomparable joy of having a partner with whom to share the experience!

The fun and satisfaction of Nordic dancing has long been an established tradition in the Pacific Northwest.  Because Scandinavians played such a significant role in the area's settling in the mid-nineteenth century, their dances are understandably a significant part of the local old-time dance legacy.  Since the founding of Skandia Folkdance Society in Seattle in 1949, an expanded repertoire of dances from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland has become staple fare in the local folk dance movement as well.

When the initial Skandia album was released in 1961, it was described as "a totally new experience in Scandinavian music -- a recording which for the first time brings together authentic folk musicians and the North's foremost folk dance orchestra."  The melodies, from five Nordic lands, were presented in a fresh and exciting manner, with a distinctive classical touch, in contrast to the accordion-oriented renditions so firmly associated with Scandinavian old-time dance music up to that time.  In an innovative move to retain the original folk flavor of the old tunes, real country fiddlers were featured as soloists in several selections.  They strikingly complement the studied polish of a professional orchestra and skilled arranger with that ebulient, genuinely native quality which the authentic folk musician can impart.

With the advent of stereo, the original monophonic edition of Skandia was eventually dropped from production.  Ever since then there have been persistent requests for a re-release of this trend-setting album.  In the spring of 1985, producer Gordon Tracie engaged Gunnar Hahn and his orchestra to record an additional fourteen selections to complement a number of previously recorded tracks.  The present collection therefore encompasses virtually the entire spectrum of the most common Scandinavian dance rhythms.  To take advantage of improvements in sound reproduction technology during the intervening years, all of the selections from the original production have been electronically enhanced.    

1989 Skandia Double Album Edition Credits:  
Producer, Jacket Notes and Dance Descriptions: Gordon Ekvall Tracie
Cover Design:  C. Alan Johnson
Cover Graphics: John Carlson
Master tape edited by: David Huber
Photo: David Lamb
Dance Descriptions Editor: Pearl Clark Ohlsson
1997 Skandia CD Edition Credits:  
Producer: Patrick D. McMonagle
Digital Editor: Russ Bishop
Technical Assistance: David Lamb
Jacket Notes and Dance Descriptions Editor: Mary Mohler
Editorial Assistance:  Ern Anderson, David Lamb,  Tommy Sjöberg, Nola Irish
CD-ROM File Editor: Dennis Barnes
Digital Graphics: Seattle Support Group
Remastering Studio: Voyager Records


Copyright © 1997 Skandia Music Foundation Viking Skandia CD
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