For those who have never heard of this before, I suggest you start by watching this video:
So, the story of the Clog-Fiddle, “träskofiol” in Swedish, goes back to the late 18th century, when people wanted to get their hands on a violin, but it was too expensive or hard to get. So they built their own violins, out of all sorts of stuff, like cigar-boxes. While it’s not completely certain why the clog shoe version became their go-to alternative, I personally believe it’s because most people have them in their homes, they may have lost or broken one shoe, it’s a pretty good size for a violin, it’s made of wood, and it might even have a good sound quality as the wood has had time to mature. For some reason it was more popular in the Skåne region (southernmost region), where the clog-fiddle was relatively well known in the mid 1800s. In the early 1900s, in the middle of the big Swedish folk music movement, there was a famous violin trio from Källna (Helsingborg, Skåne), called Källnatrion, who toured all over Sweden and used the clog-fiddle as a part of their show. This became so popular that they started making more clog-fiddles and selling them as merchandise.
Here’s a link to more information, in Swedish, and some recordings with Källnatrion: http://www.skanefolk.se/skspf/folkmusik/kallnatrion.htm
I use the clog-fiddle with my band Dreamers’ Circus, see this live clip from Tønder Festival in Denmark:
There’s also a “world championship” in Swedish clog-fiddle, which similar to the nyckelharpa world championship has mostly Swedes competing for the title. My sister and my mother have both been awarded the first prize, which my father is both proud and secretly jealous of. I’ve not been available for the competition during the last two years as I’ve been on international tours actually performing on clog-fiddle…. : ) Anyway, you can check out a lot of the performances from the world championship on youtube, just google “träskofiol VM”.
Photo by Caroline Bittencourt
Ale Carr is a multi-instrumentalist and composer playing in dynamic cittern and fiddle duo Ale Carr & Esko Järvelä and with critically acclaimed band Dreamers’ Circus. In 2013 Ale won Danish Folk Music Awards ‘Artist of the Year’. For up and coming Dreamers’ Circus events see http://www.dreamerscircus.com/#concerts