IN ENGLISH it’s “Tonk Tonk”, in Shetland it’s “Bung Bung”, in its native Norway it’s “Dunk Dunk”. The distinctive sound of the marine semi-diesel engines that powered most Norwegian boats throughout much of the 20th century was well-known in Shetland harbours for decades, but it’s a nostalgic rarity in our waters today.
For bung-bung addicts, however, help is now at hand, for the Fisheries Museum at Å in Lofoten has brought out a CD dedicated almost solely to the music of the Wichmann, the Brunvoll, the Rapp and the Saab. Its title translates as “Dunk dunk along the Norwegian coast – music from old engines”.
Of the 28 tracks lasting 62 minutes, there’s one of waves lapping, two of ships’ bells, one of a steamer’s whistle and 24 of various engines starting, running, slowing, speeding up and stopping.
Some are recorded from inside the engineroom, others from ashore as the boat sails past. On two of them, the engine even provides percussion to a couple of accordion players. The accompanying booklet gives full details and photographs of the engines, the boats and their histories; although the text is in Norwegian, it’s not hard to figure out what’s what. The friends in Norway who sent me the CD tell me that it’s been a best-seller on the coast this summer, and that lots of plastic boats now have a copy aboard, for playing when coming into a harbour.
It costs 180 kroner including postage, and is available online from the Norske Fiskevaersmuseum, Å in Lofoten, at www.lofoten-info.no/nfmuseum/