International Jew’s Harp Society
© Andrew Cronshaw
I started to learn traditional music when I was 18 at Viljandi Culture Academy (Estonia). I started to play Estonian bagpipe, flutes and the jew’s harp. Because of many factors, bagpipe and jew’s harp tradition had died out in Estonia several years ago. So, to start playing traditional music, I had to listen to it and play it after the old players, listening to old archive recordings.
This is when and where I got the passion and addiction to listen to old recordings, to search for pictures about old players, and to find out how the instruments were built!
Now, 20 years have passed, and this “obsession” has not gone anywhere, it has grown and expanded!
My teacher was Ånon Egeland in Rauland when I studied in Norway for one year. There I achieved the technique to play a clear melody on this tiny little instrument. I came back to Estonia, started to research Estonian traditional Jew’s harp recordings and pictures and instruments and eventually put together a compilation about everything I had found: “Estonian Jew’s Harp”.
All of it serves as a super-perfect source of inspiration for me to make my music. I often take old recordings, learn to play them by ear and start arranging music around those traditional tunes. However, my last passion is my solo project: My Harp – My Heart, where I also use traditional music in the Jew’s harp “sauce”. I’m using a looper and effect–pedals to convey my music to the modern audience. I like being on stage alone, after the several bands and years :)
So, this is my story and it’s not over yet!
Cätlin Mägi is currently lecturer in Viljandi Culture Academy.