Den nya visan. Om skrivande för sångens skull


  • Gunnar Ternhag


The New Song. About Writing for the Sake of Singing

Writing personal songbooks was something that occupied many young men and women during the long 19th century. After a day’s work or in a long pause an owner of a note book could sit and write song texts, copying them from prints or from other personal song books. The article highlights the importance of the writing activity for these potential singers. It tries to answer two related questions: What did writing song texts mean to the singers? And what impact had the writing activities on the singers’ relations to the songs? Three implications are suggested:

First of all, by writing a song text, the writer appropriated the song. He or she made it to a personal belonging, at least to something that could be under his or her control, although the text was similar to the one in the model.

Secondly, writing song texts resulted in a better ability to remember songs. While writing the texts, the owner of a personal songbook gradually trained her or his capacity to learn songs by heart.

The third implication points to a closer familiarity with song texts, which was an important insight for the writers as well as the singers. As many popular songs are built upon formulas, the writers bit by bit learned common text patterns and then became able to sing more freely.