A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Halling
HALLING. The most characteristic dance of Norway, deriving its origin and name from the Hallingdal, between Christiania and Bergen. It is thus described in Frederika Bremer's 'Strid og Frid' ('Strife and Peace') as translated by Mary Howitt: 'Perhaps there is no dance which expresses more than the Halling the temper of the people who originated it. It begins, as it were, upon the ground, amid jogging little hops, accompanied by movements of the arms, in which, as it were, a great strength plays negligently. It is somewhat bear-like, indolent, clumsy, half-dreaming. But it wakes, it becomes earnest. Then the dancers rise up and dance, and display themselves in expressions of power, in which strength and dexterity seem to divert themselves by playing with indolence and clumsiness, or to overcome them. The same person who just before seemed fettered to the earth, springs aloft, throws himself around in the air as though he had wings. Then, after many break-neck movements and evolutions, before which the unaccustomed spectator grows dizzy, the dance suddenly assumes again its first quiet, careless, somewhat heavy character, closes as it begun, sunk upon the earth.'
The Halling is generally danced by single dancers, or at most by two or three dancing in competition. It is accompanied on the Hardanger fiddle ('Hardangerfelen'), a violin strung with four stopped and four sympathetic strings. The music is generally written in 2-4 time, in a major key, and is played allegretto or allegro moderate, but a few examples are found in triple time. Many of the most popular Halling tunes were composed by Maliser-Knud, a celebrated performer on the Hardangerfelen who flourished about 1840. The following is a traditional and characteristic example:—
[ W. B. S. ]