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Movements in the cultural energy sphere
A demonstration

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The illustrations below can be used analytical and connect to corresponding chapters in the book. Please read the sections in the book before proceeding to the demonstration. Below you can find seven examples of the movements in the cultural energy sphere of some music types during the last 30 years. After that follows a few examples of how the model can be used in predictions. Every example is followed by a short commentary. A symbol of each tension field shows the chosen music type's movement in the field.

N.B. It can take some time before the applets are loaded!

The symbols for the fields are:

  • Homogeneous – Diversified
  • Pure – Mixed
  • Global – Local
  • Great tradition – Little tradition
  • Collective – Individual
  • Mediated – Live


The nyckelharpa was associated to local folk music traditions of northern Uppland (north east of Stockholm) and a specific repertoire. The music was performed live, and there were only a few commercial recordings to be found. Now there are new types of nyckelharpa constructed (new experimental types have been created and older historical instrument types have been reconstructed), the repertoire has been broadened and the original Uppland styles have been mixed with others (not only with other folk music styles, but also with pop and jazz). The Instrument is now distributed all over the country and to many other pasts of the world. There are newly composed concerts for nyckelharpa and symphony orchestra. There are national and international stars like the instrumentalists Åsa Jinder and Johan Hedin and older masters like Eric Sahlström have been taken out of the anonymousity of the collective been visualised as individuals. A large number of records have been issued.

Other instruments connected to local ethnic environments, like for instance the djembe and the dijeridoo, have followed the same patterns of change as the nyckelharpa.


The accordion was a fairly standardised instrument right from the start. The repertoire was homogeneous and built up by old time dance music, even though one has also played jazz on the accordions. The instrument as a type had a global character. Today the picture is more diverse. Older types of the instrument are being played parallel with the modern ones. The repertoire is also more complex with music from different genres but also from different parts of the world. At the same time the instrument is becoming more and more localised. In the past comparatively many accordion records were issued, today there are very few. The accordion has not changed its position in two of the tension fields – it has constantly been close to the pole "little tradition" and closer to "collective" than "individual".


Rap started as a quite homogeneous music type in a local context, but starting from the early 1980s it rapidly became global. Today there are local forms of rap in many parts of the world. It has constantly positioned itself close to the poles "mixed", "mediated" and "little tradition" and right in the middle between the poles "collective" and "individual" (strong feeling of belonging to a certain grouping in combination with global mega stars).

Early Music

The organised early music got renewed strength during the 1970s as an alternative movement. An important aim was to create alternative interpretations of older music in the classical Western art music. This lead to a vitalisation and diversification of Western art music. During the last decade early music has become professionalised which has led to a standardisation of the repertoire and instrumental practice, in other words, increased homogenisation and globalisation. The genre has also been more and more tightly connected to the Great tradition of art music and the oppositional ingredient has become weaker. In the genre one strives for authenticity, which means that the degree of purification is constantly high. A reason for the professionalisation of the genre is the interest from the record industry. Today there are Early Music labels on every larger record company.

Mediaeval Music

The point of departure for the mediaevalists' music making is the same as for the Early musicists. But instead of moving towards increased professionalisation and standardisation the mediaeval music in the hands of the mediaevalists is getting more and more diverse. The music making is characterized by a pragmatic eclecticism and the goal is to create a functioning mediaeval music more than sounds that are perfectly authentic. This is why mediaevalists borrow instruments from world music, use stiles and tunes from folk music etc. Mediaevalist music moves towards a higher degree of localisation and mix, and is consciously moving away from art music and the Great tradition. The foundation is the live music.


The steelbands could be found in the Caribbean and in other places where West Indians lived. The traditional repertoire was the same everywhere. Now the repertoire has opened and become more diverse. Swedish steelbands play traditional Swedish songs in calypso rhythm. The band can be found in many countries throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. They have been accepted as institutionalised pedagogical activity in the communal music schools in Sweden. There are Swedish soloists and composers. The live arena remained the main arena for the steelbands.

Swedish Folk Music

Swedish folk music was diverse in its different regional styles, but still it was a fairly homogeneous music form with the violin, the fiddler's guilds and national tunes in focus up till the 1970s. Mixtures as for instance the composer Hugo Alvén's Midsummer wake and jazz pianist Jan Johansson's jazz versions of folk songs, were not really referred to as folk music. The records were comparatively few. In recent years the idea of folk music has broadened along with new developments: new instruments has been introduced as the saxophone, bouzouki and guitar and older as the bagpipe, moraharpa, hummel have all had their revival. Regional styles have been mixed with other folk musics and early music. Folk music has got its own institutions at the conservatories and in that way moved towards art music. There is a large offer of records. Most of the records are intended for a Swedish audience.


If the patterns from above are used some predictions of future movements in the space of tension can be made. If the movement of the nyckelharpa is used as a point of departure it is possible to predict that other local ethnic instruments will make the same journey, for example the East African zeze and valiha.

Predictions can also be made based on simulated movements as results of measures taken by for instance culture politicians or by the music industry. This tool can be used for analysis in culture politics or other planning. Below follows simulations of five imagined steps taken concerning the nyckelharpa. How could these actions influence the movements in the space of tension for the instrument? The starting point I all cases is the position of the nyckelharpa in the space of tension today.

Measures taken

> The Government decides to give extra support to nyckelharpa research programs to the ethnomusicology departments at the universities. The number of knowers among the nyckelharpa people is increased.

This would contribute to the standardisation of the nyckelharpa and its repertoire and would move the instrument towards the poles homogeneous and pure. It would make the nyckelharpa a little bit more globally established through increased visibility. The instruments status would be higher and that could bring it closer to the Great tradition. A greater number of individual stars would develop. Mediaization would continue.

> The Swedish parliament decides to make the nyckelharpa "Swedish National Instrument".

This action would increase the standardisation, which is it would move the instrument towards the poles homogeneous and pure. It would make the instrument a bit more local and reject globalisation according to the motto "Sweden and the nyckelharpa to the Swedes". The instruments status would rise quite a lot (movement towards "Great tradition") and at the same time the instrument will become a collective symbol of Sweden.

> High commission fees make access to the Internet restrict its availability.

In this case the different nyckelharpa groupings would get more isolated. The development of the different groupings would become more divergent. The instrument would become more localized. The market for mediated performances would diminish.

> The Swedish Concert Institute organises a three days festival in London in order to promote the nyckelharpa.

Such a marketing effort would be too small to change the charges of the poles in the Space of tension. Result: No motion.

> The Nyckelharpa gets a large commercial exposure through Time-Warner with a campaign in international media as the MTV. Warner also finds and markets a nyckelharpa mega star (the Jimi Hendrix of the nyckelharpa).

This would have a huge impact. The many epigones would lead to increased homogenisation and mix at the same time, that is if the new nyckelharpa idol plays world music I some form (if he plays in strictly traditional style the effect will be purification). The instrument would be distributed to more places, become globalised. The instrument would also become more individualized and mediaization would increase. The charges of the poles Great tradition and little tradition will not be changed.

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