Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

Norwegian Christmas, ukulele in Saami, and a troll lullaby

02 2009

With Christmas about three weeks away from now it’s time to head north to find snowy landscapes, pine trees, freezing temperatures, short days and long nights, everything you might associate with Julenissen (Father Christmas).

Imagine you’ve been walking outside, the frost biting your cheeks in the night when you suddendly see lights coming out of a red-painted wooden house and as you near the large window bay you discover a bright welcoming living room with a Christmas tree, Christmas-decorated curtains and tablecloths, then you hear the sound of the birch gently crackling in the stove… and someone strumming Rudolf Er Rød På Nesen (tabs available on Al’s Christmas post on Uke Hunt).
Sorry I’m getting carried away! I guess I really need a holiday.

Hope this introduction has landed you somewhere in Norway where we’re headed today. Snart er det Jul igjen ! Time to fill your oven with pepperkaker,  traditional Norwegian Christmas cookies. What have pepperkaker got to do with the ukulele might you ask  ?

Thanks to Sigrid and Robert, learn how to make pepperkaker to the sound of a ukulele. Thanks to Al for the link to this video.

Let’s travel further north to find ourselves in the territory of reindeers, in Northern Norway. Mari Boine is a Norwegian Sami from Gamehisnjarga in Finnmark and a singer known for blending traditional Sami music (yoiks) with jazz and rock.  The great news is that a band with a ukulele has covered one of her song which adds Saami to my world tour collection of ukulele languages.

Listen to Anna Stokkeland (amazing vocals), Peter Cloud (ukulele) and Jelter Folkertsma (drums) covering Mari Boine’s Goaskinviellja In Utrecht, the Netherlands.  Very haunting.

A post about Norway would not be complete if I didn’t mention trolls. Time for a Norwegian lullaby telling you the story of a trollmother and her 11 small trolls, sung by Sigrid, with Robert playing the ukulele.

Good news if you’d like to play the song : there are only 2 chords Am and E7.

Here are the lyrics of the song (with my translation)

Når trollmor har lagt sine elleve små troll

When mother troll has put her eleven small trolls to bed

og bundet dem fast i halen

And tied them by the tail

da synger hun sakte for alle sine troll

She then sings softly for each of her trolls

de vakreste ord hun kjenner

the most beautiful words she knows

Ho aj aj aj aj boff,

ho aj aj aj aj boff,

ho aj aj aj aj boff, boff,

ho aj aj aj aj boff.

Sorry I am not translating troll language as per yet.

Looking for ukulele songs from a specific country? Try entering the name of the country in the search field at the top right of this page.

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