Thursday, October 21

Tribute to Peps Persson: Swedish reggae and blues legend

Photo: Image from Free-Photos from Pixabay

Swedish blues and reggae musician Peps Persson passed away earlier this week. Known for infusing social criticism with music, and doing it in excellent Scanian, this member of the Swedish Music Hall of Fame was a legendary collaborator and ambassador for his genre. This week, we will pay tribute to Peps with some music and honor his southern Swedish dialect, Scanian.

Peps Persson roots / Peps Persson roots

Born in 1946 in Helsingborg, Skåne, Per-Åke Tommy Persson, showed an interest in reggae and blues from an early age. Drawing inspiration from reggae and blue giants Bob Marley and Muddy Waters respectively, Persson’s early music was written in English. In the 1970s, his group Peps Blodsband released hits like “Fake math” Y “High standard“, Considered classics in Swedish progg gender. Progg It represents progressive music or progressivism, a nod to the leftist and anti-commercial movements in Swedish music in the 60s and 70s.

Some lines of “High standard“:

High level, what the heck is high standard?
Do you trust the myth of our rich west?
Do you feel safe and full, my friend?
Or does doubt gnaw like a bad tooth?
Do you feel cheated in any way?

High standard? What the heck is a high standard?
Do you trust the myth of our rich western country?
Do you feel safe and full, my friend?
Or does doubt gnaw at you like a bad tooth?
Do you feel cheated in any way?

Peps as a collaborator

Throughout his career, Persson collaborated with countless musicians in addition to his bandmates. Partner Scanians, songwriter and musician Nisse Hellberg, as well as rapper and writer Timbuktu have worked with Persson. The hit song Dynamit! it was co-written in 2003 by Timbutku and Persson, who played several times together in front of live audiences.

Peps puts Scanian on the map – Peps puts Scanian on the map

Peps Persson sang in Scanian which was rare early in his career. As an amateur linguist, at best I’ll add just a few introductory notes to the Swedish-Danish hybrid that is Scanian! This southern Swedish dialect is called Scanian in English and is spoken in the Swedish provinces of Skåne (Scania), Blekinge, Y Halland. The short version of the story is that southern Sweden used to be part of Denmark. Thus, Danish pronunciation, even vocabulary, which is not found in standard Swedish, abounds in Scanian Still today. To find out the differences in vocabulary, visit this blog our team wrote a while ago, “Southern Swedish Vocabulary”.

I will now highlight two main differences between Standard Swedish and Scanian so you know what to listen to when enjoying a Peps Persson song.

1. Skånska speakers don’t roll their r’s

Standard Swedish speakers use a flick of the tongue to roll the r sound, while people from Skåne use a guttural r, similar to a French r.

2. Swedish long vowels are replaced by diphthongs in skånska.

What is a diphthong, you say? This “sliding vowel” sound occurs when two vowel sounds are created on one syllable. The tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel, resulting in two emphases. The standard Swedish “å” has an “eåo” sound in Scanian, the “u” sounds like “äu” and so on.

In my opinion, the best single illustration of Scanian on a Peps song it has to be the 1992 single “Oh boy!” for its long and strenuous closing sentences. I featured this song a few weeks ago in my 7 Swedish Summer Tunes post because it’s a carefree listening staple during the summer. Read the opening verse first below and then click the video to sing along Scanian! Pay attention to the way the “a” in day Y I it is changed to an “auo” sound.

Oh boy!
What a beautiful weather, the sun is shining today
Oh boy!
No heavy clothes needed, and I like that
So get up and jump, it’s sunny today
And on a day like this you can’t lie down and throw away
No, come out of the den and hang out with me
When summer comes, now winter is over

Twangy, isn’t it? What did you think of the exquisite example of Scanian in “Oh boy!” For more Swedish music, check out the first post of each month!

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