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Western Europe and the Nordic Countries: Norway (Hallingdans)

This week we nest in Norway, a Nordic nation that is geographically almost at the tippy top (or way bottom – https://i.redd.it/vf3lurijoqi01.jpg) of Europe.    

Norwegian folk music is closely intertwined with the folk music of its Scandinavian neighbor Denmark as the history of Norway is intertwined with that of Denmark, which is quite intertwined. (You knew Denmark ruled Norway from 1380 until the early 1800s, didn't you?) As in Denmark, the primary instrument in Norway's folk music is the fiddle; in Norway, the most distinctive fiddle is the Hardanger. Some cool Norwegian traditional instruments include the bukkehorn (goat horn), the harpeleik (chorded zither), the langeleik (box dulcimer), the lur (an older, trumpet-like instrument), the seljefløyte (a willow flute) and the aptly named Norwegian harp.    

Norway's folk music generally is either "North Germanic" or “Sami.” North Germanic Norwegian music focuses on two kinds of songs – Kvad (ballads) and Stev (improvised songs). "Sami" music is the music of the Sami people of Northern Scandinavia.   

This week in class we sing:

 “Will Ye No Come Back Again” is a Scottish song about a whole town mourning the potential loss of a favorite son. (More.)  

We sing "We Are Happy," a hello song from Uganda, to open every All Around This World class. This week we sing hello in Danish: Hvordan går det? 

Por Colombianas” is a rhythmic flamenco “palo” based upon a series of rhythms that developed in the “new world.” (More.)  

Ay Carmela” is a song from the Republican forces fighting in the Spanish Revolution – “and then one night the river passed, Ay Carmela, Ay Carmela...!” (More.)  

E Qee Qee” is our version of a Greenlandic drum dance. (More.)  

A LITTLE MORE:

 Quite long ago, from approximately 800 to 1050 A.D., Vikings set sail from Scandinavian nations such as Denmark and Norway in their new-fangled ships and landed-- raiding, or at least trading--in ports throughout Europe and the Baltics. Vikings of the age were rough men, ship-hardened and world-weary. In their early days they were also very rough on Christians, going out of their way to burn church buildings or destroy monestaries, in response to the harsh incursion of Christianity into their previously pagan lands. Within several centuries, though, the Church had converted many vikings to Christianity and the vikings essentially became Crusaders.

At the time to call someone a "viking" would very much like calling someone a pirate. The term "viking" was a verb that meant something like, "to commit an act of piracy." On the other hand, Vikings were not the foul and brutish barbarians we find in contemporary caricatures. Today we often use the term "Vikings" to refer to the bulk of the people who lived in Scandinavia during the viking era. Learn some very basic viking history. (Really, what is a viking?)

The VikingAnswerLady, responding to a question by "Skald With Nothing to Sing" about Viking songs, provides a definitive overview of the history and characteristics of Viking music, from Roman historians' mentions of the Germanic peoples' epic songs, through writing of early Christians that Scandinavian Viking-era songs were "numerous and obscene," to a contemporary attempt to recreate the melodies of Viking music. In the course of her response The Viking Answer Lady introduces us to several archaeologically-unearthed Viking instruments, such as:

-- the bone flute: (listen to one here)
-- the "Falster pipe" (listen to one here)
-- the panpipe (listen to one here)
-- the cow horn recorder (listen to one here)
-- the wooden lur (listen to one here)
-- the lyre (listen to one here)
-- a unique fiddle
-- various types of drums

For an idea of how the Vikings may have used these instruments, listen to the Viking Lady website's recreations of songs that may have been similar to those the Vikings sang, such as:
-- "Drømde mig en drøm i nat," a melody sourced to about the year 1300 (performed on the lyre)
-- "Nobilis humilis," a twelfth century gymel: a song in two parts (sung)
-- "the Vôluspá Tune," an early Icelandic melody (performed on bone flute)

For more information about anything relating to the Vikings, visit The Viking Answer Lady's awesome, awesome site.

Enjoy!

Jay

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