Music of Norway


Folk musicfrom Norway is usually in minor or modal, making a sober and haunting sound, though major key dance music forms also exist. In the last half of the 20th century, Norway, like many other countries in the world, underwent a roots revivalthat saw indigenous music being revived. Prior to the 1700s, there is scant record of what kind of music was played in Norway. In 1380, Norway had come under Danish rule, and thus had no royal house or nobility of its own; as a result, for 450 years, Norway did not participate in the musical development which occurred in royal circles throughout the rest of Europe. Religious and folk music probably remained popular throughout this era, though again scant records exist to document their nature.

Folk music

Traditional Norwegian songs (kveding), ballads and short, often improvised songs (stev) are three of the biggest types of folk music. Work songs, hymns, tralling vocals and old printed ballad stories, skillingstryk, have also been popular. The Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele) is perhaps the most distinctive instrument in Norwegian folk music, though other fiddles like vanleg fele and Setesdals-fele are also popular. The hardingfele was part of kappleikar, musical contests from the late 19th century. Perhaps the most popular and controversial of modern hardingfele artists is Annbjørg Lien, who released her first album, Annbjørg in 1989. The album featured Helge Førde and Frode Fjellheim and was both praised for its innovative fusion work and expressive style, and criticized for its watering-down of traditional sounds and a lack of regional tradition.

Traditional dances include: slåttar, bygdedan, halling, pols, springleik, rull, gangar, springar and brumarsj. In the 19th century, musicians like Myllarguten began introducing more expressive ways of playing. Later in the century, new dances were imported from Europe, including the fandango, polka and mazurka. These were known as gammeldans.

Other Norwegian folk instruments include: willow flute; tungehorn and Meråker (clarinets); bukkehorn (goat horn); lur (small trumpet); langeleik (box zither); Norwegian harp




  • (cordofoni) hardingfele - vanleg fele - Setesdals-fele - langeleik (box zither); Norwegian harp

  • (aerofoni) willow flute - tungehorn and Meråker (clarinets); bukkehorn (goat horn); lur (small trumpet);

  • (ancia libera)

  • (membranofoni)

  • (idiofoni)

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