Norwegian Music

Norway is located in northern Europe, bordering the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Sweden.

Norwegian folk Music

There are two types of Norwegian folk music: instrumental and vocal. Most of the time, instrumental folk music is dance music (slåttar). Norwegian folk dances are communal dances and regularly performed by couples, even though there are also solo dances, like the halling. Norway has very little of the ceremonial dances of other traditions. Dance tunes include two-beat (halling, gangar or rull ) and three-beat dances (springar or springleik). (source: Music Information Centre Norway – MIC)

Folk instruments

The most prominent folk music instrument in Norway is the Hardanger fiddle, found in the western and central part of Norway. The regular violin (the flatfele) is used in the eastern and northern parts of the country.

Other folk music instruments customary in Norway are the Norwegian dulcimer (langeleik), various flutes and the Jew’s harp.

The vocal tradition

Epic folk songs are the most significant form of vocal folk music in Norway. Although there are many types of epic folk songs, the most fascinating are the medieval ballads. They were first transcribed in the 20th century, but the ballad tradition has been handed down from the Middle Ages. The lyrics of these songs narrate tales of the lives of nobles, knights and maidens. Some ballads depict historical events, and they are frequently melodramatic. Epic songs may have fairy-tale themes and creatures such as goblins and giants.

The lullaby (bånsull) is another form of folk song that is well-known in Norway. There are also work songs in Norway, including high-pitched herding calls known as laling, lalning or lålning used to communicate over long distances.

A rich tradition of folk melodies used in Protestant hymns arose before the arrival of the church organ.

Sami music

The Sami people (also known in English as Lapps or Laplanders) have their own vocal folk music called joik. The only traditional instrument used by the Sami was the shaman’s drum (runebomme).


Bergen is a world heritage city that grew around a medieval town. The city is situated between seven mountains on the North Sea coast. Bergen is surrounded by the Norwegian Fjords, which have now been included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Bergen is situated between the longest fjord Sognefjord and the beautiful Hardangerfjord.

Bergen city center – Photo by Angel Romero

Accordionist and composer Gabriel Fliflet runs an influential folk music club named Columbi Egg, which is one of the biggest scenes for folk music in [[Norway. The club is also renowned for bringing in musicians from all over the world and creating a vibrant hot-spot, not just for folk musicians but for music lovers in general.

Bergen hosts two important music festivals, Bergen International Festival and Night Jazz.

A must is to take the Fløyen Funicular and get a panoramic view over one of the most beautiful cities in Norway.

fjords – Photo by Angel Romero


Førde is situated on the western coast area of Norway, 150 km north of Bergen, surrounded by fjords, mountains, glaciers and waterfalls. It is a small town (12000 inhabitants), and it is uncomplicated to go from one place to another. All distances are easily walked.

Førde was a very small farming community, but over the past few years, it has developed to become the region’s most important business center between Bergen and Ålesund.

The annual international folk music festival, Førde Folk Music Festival, is held in July. It is the biggest of its kind in Scandinavia for folk, traditional, world music and dance from all over the world. The festival takes place in the beginning of July each year. The main profile is traditional and contemporary folk music on an acoustic basis. Artists from more than 100 different countries were presented at the festival in the past years.

Acclaimed Swedish trio Väsen at Førde Folk Music Festival parade in 2010 – Photo by Angel Romero

The festival program includes concerts, workshops, exhi­biti­ons, children’s events, dance evenings etc. Plus different kinds of projects during the festival week and throughout the year.

The main festival arena is the culture center, “Førdehuset” with four concert halls from 170 to 2500 seats. Festival events also take place in hotels, museums, arts centers and outdoor stages in and nearby Førde, altogether about 20 venues. The festival emphasizes a certain theme each year.

The focal point of culture in the Førde region is “Førdehuset”. In Førdehuset you will find theater, cinema, library, fine arts, sports, swimming pool and much more.

Folk and World Music Companies

The two record labels specialized in Norwegian folk music are Heilo and Buen Kulturverksted. Kirkelig Kulturverksted has also released Norwegian folk music and world music by artists from abroad, including collaborations between Norwegian musicians and international acts.

Etnisk Musikklubb A/S (EM) is a company with business activities focusing on a worldwide repertoire of traditional folk music, ethnic music and world music.

Etnisk Musikklubb A/S (EM) is a company with business activities focusing on a worldwide repertoire of traditional folk music, ethnic music and world music. EM’s record company division releases Norwegian folk music, as well as multi-cultural artists of international stature based in Norway.

Etnisk Musikklubb operates a Music Club, a membership-based club for ethnic music and related explorative fields, and also runs a mail order company whose distribution is mainly based on catalog mail order and web sales.

Norwegian Musicians

Ånon Egeland
Agnes Buen Garnas
Annbjørg Lien
Arve Moen Bergset
Åse Teigland
Berit Opheim
Bjarne Herrefoss
Bjørn Ole Rasch
Bukkene Bruse
Frode Haltli
Gjermund Larsen
Håkon Høgemo
Hallvard T. Bjørgum
Hauk Buen
Inga Juuso
Jan Garbarek
Johan A. Andersen
Johan Sara Jr.
John Ole Morken
Karl Seglem
Kirsten Bråten Berg
Knut Buen
Knut Hamre
Knut Reiersrud
Lars Underdal
Leif Rygg
Mari Boine
Rita Eriksen
Sigurd Brokke
Sinikka Langeland
Steinar Ofsdal
Susanne Lundeng
Synnøve S. Bjørset
Terje Isungset
Tone Hulbækmo
Trygve Seim
Unni Boksasp
Unni Løvlid
Valkyrien Allstars
Vegar Vårdal