The second part of our blog celebrating Nordic music follows on from part one, when we looked at three current artists of the music scene which were, Steindor Andersen, Torgeir Vassvik and Eivor. We learned that many of the songs they wrote were based on ancient poems and musical styles that dated back hundreds of years. This blog features even more of these new Nordic folk musicians.
Hamaradum is a folk / rock band that hail from the Faroe Islands and are a result of the driving force of the lead singer of the highly influential rock band Tyr. Tyr were famous for their Viking Rock style which is basically heavy metal music based on a Norse mythology theme. Hamaradun were formed so Pol Arni, the former lead singer of Tyr, could express the Nordic heritage a bit more deeply. A recent song, Sinklars Visa demonstrated this as it is an interpretation of the 18th Century Norwegian poem depicting a battle in 1612. The poem is traditionally related to dancing in the round which is a Faroe Islands tradition.
The ancient poems and ballads of Nordic tradition often take up very dark themes and forms. Jullie Hjetland is a Danish singer who is not afraid to take these subjects up in her repertoire, and when she sang of Liden Karen she relayed the dark story of a young women who falls prey to a powerful king who is already married. The tale gets ever darker but Hjetland handles the content matter superbly is her rendition.
Nordic Noir music traditionally has the accompaniment of a droning fiddle which is actually called a hardanger. It is similar to a normal violin but has the addition of four extra strings that resonate under the lead strings. If you have ever listened to the Peer Gynt Suite the opening notes that signify the dawn of the day are played on a hardanger. One of the most proficient modern day hardanger players is Anne Hytte who is a Norwegian fiddle player who loves to play music influenced from the past. She also has taken to understand the moods of the instrument better and has based her research on colors to match old style tuning techniques.
Her new work entitled Draumsyn harks back to medieval times and takes on the minimalist forms of the music of the age. It is similar to chamber music and uses the droning hardanger in different ways to the traditional forms.
Our final Nordic folk artists are a trio from Sweden called Groupa and are very much the embodiment of Nordic Noir. Their music is full of old traditions, organic instruments and is ultra-minimalist. Their music is almost cold replicating the harsh landscape that inspires it.
Groupa have been performing for over twenty years with their unique brand of Nordic music and are probably Sweden’s most experimental rock / folk bands of all time. There is no doubt that each musician is a master of his own instrument which collectively adds to a most creative combined sound. Nordic folk music is very much alive and kicking and is a testament to times long gone.