C. A. Sandstén – ”wisförfattare och sångare wid positiv”

En folklig underhållare på 1870-talet

C. A. Sandstén – ’songwriter and singer at the barrel organ’: a folk entertainer in the 1870s

Carl August Sandstén (1842–1876) lived by the coast town Västervik in the south­east part of Sweden. 15 songs of his were printed in chapbooks 1873–76. It is shown that though barrel organs were imported, the technique of repairing and pinning existed in Sweden at that time. A possible reconstruction of Sandstén’s repertoire of melodies is made by combining a melody that fits the metre of a text with one of the following criteria: documented in the early 1870s, used for another song referred to in the text, has a broad popular base or a documented transmission chain. Sandstén’s 15 songs could be linked to 7 melodies, while 13 songs by other writers in his chapbooks correspond to 13 melodies. It is concluded that he re-used melodies of the barrel organ, which implies that the barrel organ might have had a larger influence than generally thought on the development of standard major key melodies for broadside chapbook songs.

It is shown that Sandstén as a folk entertainer had a rather clear strategy for his business that included combining barter economy with the currency system, varying song themes to fit different situations, writing songs for target groups (market visitors, conscripts), promoting his name, and cooperating with a printing company. Several of his songs were reprinted up to around 1920 and some have survived in oral tradition.

Keywords: Folk entertainer, organ grinder, barrel organ, songwriting, chapbook, broadside melody


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