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The Setesdal folk music scene is in many ways unique in a national context. There is an unbroken tradition of folk tunes played on Hardanger fiddle and Jew’s harp. Some of the older performers learned these tunes directly from folk musicians born at the end of the 19th century. The staves and folk dances are also parts of this unbroken tradition. For many of today’s performers this knowledge has been passed on from the older generation – it has not been a course activity. And for a long time the traditional tunes and dances from Setesdal have been performed by highly skilled and renowned artists.
Folk music is one of the Setesdal «brands»; something people expect to meet on their journey through the valley, although it is not that visible today. The former extent of the cultural heritage – as a part of everyday life – is diminishing, although a number of people try to keep the traditions alive. As all folk music is local, this cultural heritage will be at risk of vanishing unless new measures aimed at preserving it and passing it on will be implemented.
Kulturpatrulja («the Culture Patrol») is a group consisting of young, talented folk musicians and dancers from Setesdal. During the summer, they give free concerts and performances at various spots in Setesdal and other places in the southern part of Norway. The concerts last about one hour and give you a small impression of the rich cultural heritage conveyed by these young artists.
4. July: 16:30 Flateland Camping / 19:30 Bykle old church
5. July: 13:00 Bygland museum / 15:00 Rysstad center
6. July: 13:00 Odden camping / 15:30 Neset camping
7. July: 15:00 Hovden center / 17:00 Brokkestøylen
11. July: 16:30 Sølvgarden Hotell / 18:00 Flateland camping
13. July: 13:00 Hovden center / 15:00 KK Thai, Valle
14. July: 11:00 Slåttedag på Rygnestad / 13:00 and 15:00 Food market at Ose
18. July: 12:00 The steam ship Bjoren (from Bygland museum) / 16:30 Sølvgarden hotell
19. July: 13:00 Odden camping / 15:30 Neset camping
25. July: 12:00 The steam ship Bjoren (from Bygland museum) / 15:00 Valle center
Sylvartun is located approximately 4 kilometres north of Rysstad. Founded in 1961, this was the most important arena for silverwork and folk music in Setesdal for more than 40 years. The Bjørgum silver was said to be of the utmost quality, and an encounter with the owner of Sylvartun – the fiddler, silversmith and cultural ambassador Torleiv H. Bjørgum – made a lasting impression on many visitors. Having been closed since 2010, the former art and cultural centre has once more opened its doors. There is no longer a silversmith’s workshop on the premises, but the folk music is still alive. Sylvartun is run by the Setesdal Museum and is called a centre for intangible cultural heritage. Through exhibitions of traditional musical instruments, audio and video recordings, the guests are taken on a journey into the world of folk music.
Sylvartun is open daily from 11.00 to 17.00 during the period 20 June to 14 August. There is no cafeteria, but this is a perfect spot for a picnic break.
Every summer the Setesdal Folk Music Contest takes place in Rysstad. Coordinated by the local organization Setesdal Spelemannslag, the contests, concerts and workshops include a number of top names from the Norwegian folk music scene. In 2018 the dates for this event are 27.-29. July.