Hårgalåten

  Hårgalåten is one of the best known fiddle tunes from the province of Hälsingland.   There are variants of the tune from other nearby areas, but this version is connected with the Hårga legend, which I will put down here in its entirety:

   First, you should know that the main color of the traditional dress in Hanebo is blue, and in Segersta grey.  The two villages lie in the shadow of the mountain, Hårgaberget.

  One summer Saturday evening, some young people, dressed in their best clothes, attended a big party with dancing.   When midnight came and the musicians and most of the dancers were gone, this group, against church rules, decided to keep dancing, even though it was now Sunday morning.

Their problem was that they didn’t have any music.   But right at the stroke of midnight, a tall stranger entered the barn they were in, and asked if they wanted a fiddler.  He opened his case, took out his fiddle, and began playing the most beautiful polska they had ever heard.

They started dancing, and got lost in the music, dancing for hours.  Finally, the churchbells rang, signalling that it was time to go to church.   Then the fiddler began to sing as he played, saying “Here dance the blue, and here dance the grey, but on Hårgaberget the dancers will stay!”

  With that, the doors of the barn swung open, and the dancers, holding hands, went single file out of the barn toward the mountain.   But the last boy in line caught sight of the fiddler’s foot, and saw that it was a cloven hoof!   That broke the spell for him, but now he tried to save his girlfriend who was now last in line, by holding her arm.   The door slammed shut on it, tearing her arm right off.

The dancers continued to the top of the mountain, where the Devil (for so the fiddler was) sat in the crook of a tree (which is still there to this very day), and played while they danced in a circle until there was nothing left but their heads, rolling around with the music.

  To the left is a sculpture in the nearby town of Kilafors, showing the Devil at his evil work.

I learned this tune back in the 1970’s in the key of G minor, and for many years only played it that way.   But more recently, I have found that most players (not all!) currently play it in A minor, so I have put it in that key.

Here is a YouTube video of some Hälsingland fiddlers playing it in A minor.