continental drift 1/25/23: norway

grapTouching down at the Oslo airport, we are drifting to Norway! Listen to the playlist here, and listen back to the episode here.

The Kingdom of Norway makes up the northwest part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. With a population of 5.5 million, it comes in at the 118th most populated country in the world. The country has the fourth highest per capita income in the world, and has ranked first on the World Happiness Report before (remember Finland and New Zealand?)

The official languages of Norway are Norwegian and the uralic language Sámi. Notably, Norwegian has been described as the easiest language to  learn for native English speakers. It is mutually intelligible between Swedish and Finnish. 

Hardanger Fiddle | Helland, K. E. | V&A Explore The Collections

Hardanger Fiddle

The most typical folk instrument is the Hardanger fiddle, which looks and plays like an ordinary fiddle but is engineered so that a performer plays on two strings most of the time.  

Bygdedans is a type of Norwegian folk music played especially for “courting dances.” It’s a dance music,  very social, often performed by couples.  

A note: I focused on North Germanic folk music for this episode, but the uralic Sami people absolutely have a rich tradition! Their main folk style, joik, was featured in the Finland episode. 

Bygdedans sample:
Sigdalspringar: Springar (Etter Ola Hiåsen) // Steinar Strøm

Violinist Ole Bull's Desperate Gamble : Interlude

Ole Bull

One of the first classical composers to come out of Norway was Georg von Bertouch. He was a juris doctorate, a military officer, and famous composer. He is most well known for composing 24 sonatas, in each of the 24 keys. Only 16 survive. 

Ole Bull is cited as “the first major Norwegian musician.” He was born February 5th 1810, and is credited as bringing traditional Norwegian music to public classical consciousness. He led an interesting life that included playing first violin in the orchestra of Bergen at age nine, pretending to study law in Germany, and becoming a leader in Norwegian romantic nationalism. He was a violinist and composer. 

After the French Revolution in 1848, Norway experienced economic growth coinciding with a boom in music. Female musicians were widely accepted, even so far as being published and given stipends by the state.  Thus started the “golden age” of Norwegian classical, led by Christian Sinding and Johan Halvorsen.  

Classical segment:
Trio Sonata No. 8 in G Major // Georg von Bertouch, Bergen Baroqu
Passacaglia for Violin and Viola // Johan Halvorsen, Davide Algona, Jose Adolfo Alejo
Gjendines Bånlåt // Pernille Anker
Margaret’s Waltz // Aly Bain, Tellef Kvifte, Leiv Solberg, Henning Sommerro

Annbjørg Lien is “controversial.” She blends classical and Norwegian traditional, which leads some to criticize her for having a “lack of regional tradition” or “watering down folk music.” She received her PhD in Hardingfele in 2019 from University of Agder, but has no other formal education. She is also part of the band Bukken Bruse (translation: billy goats gruff), which was the official band of the 1994 winter olympics in lillehammer. In addition, she plays in String Sisters, which featured strings players from 6 countries. 

Gluggjen // Annbjørg Lien

The first recorded emergence of a saxophone in Norway was 1923. In the 1930s there was a recession, so less jazz, but it found its way again in the 1940s, when the Norwegians found a way to sneak in the violin into the genre. Post world war two there was a greater shift towards French, American, and British styles. Including jazz! In recent years, jazz has taken off, centered in Oslo. 

Jazz segment:
Hole In the Wall // Henry Purcell, Bjarte Eike, Barokksolistene
Flipper the Bush Kangaroo // The Brazz Brothers
On the Horizon, Part 2 // Hedvig Mollestad, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra

Black metal is definitely popular, consistent with the metal traditions of the rest of the Scandinavian peninsula. Mayhem, a popular band, was also the center of a cult, and were known to be very extreme.  They encouraged violence against churches, and a bandmate even killed another. I think we focused on enough metal in Finland, so I didn’t include any here. (Listen to Wrekage for more haha). 

Susanne Sundfør, Debaser Hornstulls Strand (Stockholm) - ROCKFOTO.NU

Susanne Sundfør

Popular Norwegian pop artists include A-ha, Aurora, Girl in Red, Kings of Convenience, and Sigrid. Of course, this is WREK, so we’ll focus on the underground. 

Popular music segment:
Fotspor // Holm CPU
Fade Away // Susanne Sundfør
Icarus // Mandalai Lamas
I’m On Top // Otha
Love You Like That // Dagny