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Känsliga bitar: Text- och kontextstudier i sentimental populärsång
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Comparative Literature and Scandinavian Languages.
2003 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation is a study of a song type that was popular during the whole of the twentieth century: the sentimental schlager. As a sub-genre of the dance and high-spirited mainstream schlager these songs are characterized by nostalgia and sentimentality. In the tension between audience and critics they have come to represent a particular kind of popularity, regarded as attractive and moving by a broad and devoted public, but dismissed as ”kitsch” and in bad taste by the educated élite. The sentimentality itself as a mood and narrative form seems to constitute the watershed of valuation.

The major question is what the ”sentimentality” really consists of in these songs. In order to answer this the text motifs, formal strategies and performance conditions of songs from the break-through of the sound media in the middle of the 1920s until the end of the 1950s are analyzed. The repertoires of three artists are studied, artists who – at various times and in different ways – worked within the genre: Sven-Olof Sandberg (1905-74), Bertil Boo (1914-96), and Gösta ”Snoddas” Nordgren (1926-81).

Sven-Olof Sandberg was the singer and text-writer who introduced the sentimental schlager in Sweden. His emotional songs are analyzed with regard to four different spheres of motifs and topics that seem to have been particularly productive for the sentimental mood: the home of one’s childhood, the mother, existential reflections, and dreamy romanticism. The treatment of these motifs in the songs is analyzed, and they are historicized in relation to older forms of literature.

The repertoires of Bertil Boo and ”Snoddas’” are clearly akin to that of Sandberg but their performances were very different from his urbane, bourgeois artist persona. Both appear in a post-war climate, when ”nature singers” and ”amateurs” became fashionable in the entertainment industry – a development by which they were not only favoured, but to which – to a great extent – they themselves contributed. In various ways these singers personify organic relationships with the landscape and the forest.

In time, with growing modernization, we witness a sharpened nostalgia in the sentimental genre, now extended to the artist as representing a threatened lifestyle. This intensification occurs in parallel with important demographic changes and the spread of modern youth culture in the 1950s. Towards the end of the decade the sentimental schlager gradually disappeared from the mainstream of the soundscape. The music and its moods, however, continue to attract people

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2003. , 397 p.
Keyword [en]
Literature, cultural studies, gender studies, kitsch, lyrics, nostalgia, popular culture, popular music, schlager, sentimentality
Keyword [sv]
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-87ISBN: 91-88675-85-8OAI: diva2:144814
Public defence
2003-09-27, Umeå, 10:15
Available from: 2003-09-27 Created: 2003-09-27 Last updated: 2014-03-03Bibliographically approved

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