Meråkerklarinetten I Solo Og Samspill
Geir Egil Larsen, Bjørn Aksdal
EM46 / 2009
Bjørn Aksdal og Geir Egil Larsen er de to, som på litt ulike måter har arbeidet mest med meråkerklarinetten og tradisjonen etter spelmannen og instrumentmakeren Harald Gilland i Meråker. Begge har lært både spill og repertoar direkte av Gilland. Geir Egil var hos Harald Gilland allerede i 1979, mens Bjørn kom til Meråker første gang i 1980. Bjørn har, i tillegg til at han har spilt og funnet fram nye melodier på instrumentet, gitt ut et hefte og skrevet flere artikler om meråkerklarinetten. Han var også ansvarlig for utgivelsen av en kassett med arkivopptak av Harald Gilland i 1988. Begge har gjort flere opptak med Gilland, og disse opptakene har vært utgangspunkt for flere radioprogrammer som har vært sendt på NRK. Geir Egil har brukt klarinetten mye opp gjennom årene, ikke minst på så godt som alle de mer enn 1200 konsertdagene han har gjennomført for Rikskonsertene i Norge og delvis Sverige, samt på turneer i Finland. I tillegg har både han og Bjørn benyttet meråkerklarinetten på flere tidligere plateutgivelser.
In Meråker, a parish situated north-east of Trondheim and close to the Swedish border, an old and very special home-made folk clarinet is found. The tradition of both making the instrument and playing on it has been brought up to date by Harald Gilland (1912-1992), a local industrial worker and a fiddler. When he was a child, Gilland received a clarinet from his father, who also told him that such instruments were in use by shepherd boys as late as the 1880s. The Meråker clarinet, as it is now called, went out of use early in this century. In the 1950s, Harald Gilland and some of his colleagues caused a revival of the instrument by making a modernised version of it. Over the next years, Gilland developed the clarinet even more, but he still maintained its archaic type of scale. Originally a solo instrument, the Meråker clarinet could now also be used in ensemble playing.
Around 1980, people outside Meråker became aware of this instrument through a very popular television program, which featured Gilland and his clarinet. Soon after, recordings of the instrument were also to be heard in the different folk music radio programmes. In the 1980s, quite a lot of Meråker clarinets were distributed by Gilland throughout Norway and even abroad. In Trondheim, Ringve Museum now took such an interest in the instrument that it started to sell Gilland’s clarinets to its visitors, and a music cassette was made to present the sound, playing style and repertoire of the instrument.
Around 1990, an instrument strongly reminding of the old Meråker clarinets, was found in a museum in Elverum in Østerdalen. The instrument was soon named the Østerdal clarinet, as an equivalent to the name Meråker clarinet. The instrument maker Magnar Storbækken from Tolga started to make good playing copies of the instrument, which he sold to musicians.
After Harald Gilland died in 1992, a few craftsmen who had learnt from him still made some clarinets during the next years. Additionally, Magnar Storbækken developed a special variant of the instrument. However, the production of Meråker clarinets was very limited, and the public interest for the instrument decreased strongly during the 1990s. Today, the situation for the Meråker clarinet is far from positive, and only a handful of musicians keep the tradition alive. It is even difficult to find new good instruments, and there are no recordings available presenting the sound and the repertoire of the Meråker clarinet.
Geir Egil Larsen and I have both learnt the tradition of playing the Meråker clarinet directly from Harald Gilland. We think that this traditional instrument contains many musical qualities which should be passed on to new generations of folk musicians. Therefore, we decided to make this CD to promote the public interest in the Meråker clarinet, as well as honouring the memory of our teacher, Harald Gilland.