Nordic folk music includes a number of traditions in Northern European, especially Scandinavian, countries. The Nordic countries are generally taken to include Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The Nordic Council, an international organization, also includes the autonomous territories of Åland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Historically, the term Nordic was also applied to Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Northern Europe is the geographical region in Europe roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54°N. Narrower definitions may be based on other geographical factors such as climate and ecology. A broader definition would include the area north of the Alps. Countries which are central-western, central or central-eastern are not usually considered part of either Northern or Southern Europe.
Scandinavia is a region in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. The term Scandinavia in local usage covers the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The majority national languages of these three, belong to the Scandinavian dialect continuum, and are mutually intelligible North Germanic languages. In English usage, Scandinavia also sometimes refers to the Scandinavian Peninsula, or to the broader region including Finland and Iceland, which is always known locally as the Nordic countries.
The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic, where they are most commonly known as Norden. The term includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as Greenland and the Faroe Islands—which are both part of the Kingdom of Denmark—and the Åland Islands and Svalbard archipelagos that belong to Finland and Norway respectively, whereas the Norwegian Antarctic territories are often not considered a part of the Nordic countries, due to their geographical location. Several regions in Europe, such as the Northern Isles of Scotland, share cultural or ethnic ties with Nordic nations, but are not considered to be Nordic countries. Scandinavians, who comprise over three quarters of the region's population, are the largest group, followed by Finns, who comprise the majority in Finland; other ethnic groups are the Greenlandic Inuit, the Sami people, and recent immigrants and their descendants. The native languages Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese are all North Germanic languages rooted in Old Norse. Native non-Germanic languages are Finnish, Greenlandic and several Sami languages. The main religion is Lutheran Christianity.
The many regions of the Nordic countries share certain traditions, many of which have diverged significantly. It is possible to group together the Baltic states and northwest Russia as sharing cultural similarities, contrasted with Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Atlantic islands of Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Greenland's Inuit culture has its own musical traditions, influenced by Scandinavian culture. Finland shares many cultural similarities with both the Baltic nations and the Scandinavian nations. The Saami of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia have their own unique culture, with ties to the neighboring cultures.
The Baltic states, also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations or simply the Baltics, is a geopolitical term, typically used to group the three sovereign states in Northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The term is not used in the context of cultural areas, national identity, or language, because while the majority of people in Latvia and Lithuania are Baltic people, the majority in Estonia are Finnic. The three countries do not form an official union, but engage in intergovernmental and parliamentary cooperation. The most important areas of cooperation between the three countries are foreign and security policy, defence, energy and transportation.
Northwest Russia or Northern European Russia can be roughly defined as that part of European Russia bounded by Finland, the Arctic Ocean, the Ural Mountains and the east-flowing part of the Volga River. Although it was never a political unit there is some reason for treating it as a distinct region.
The dulcimer and fiddle are the two most characteristic instruments found throughout Scandinavia. In Norway, the eight- or nine-stringed hardanger fiddle is also found. Gammaldans are a kind of dance song played by harmonica and accordion, popular in both Sweden and Norway in the late 19th and early 20th century.
A dulcimer is a type of musical string instrument. It is a variety of zither. Among its forms are:
A fiddle is a bowed string musical instrument, most often a violin. It is a colloquial term for the violin, used by players in all genres including classical music. Although violins and fiddles are essentially synonymous, the style of the music played may determine specific construction differences between fiddles and classical violins. For example, fiddles may optionally be set up with a bridge with a flatter arch to reduce the range of bow-arm motion needed for techniques such as the double shuffle, a form of bariolage involving rapid alternation between pairs of adjacent strings. To produce a "brighter" tone, compared to the deeper tones of gut or synthetic core strings, fiddlers often use steel strings. The fiddle is part of many traditional (folk) styles, which are typically aural traditions—taught 'by ear' rather than via written music.
A Hardanger fiddle is a traditional stringed instrument used originally to play the music of Norway. In modern designs, this type of fiddle is very similar to the violin, though with eight or nine strings and thinner wood. Four of the strings are strung and played like a violin, while the rest, aptly named understrings or sympathetic strings, resonate under the influence of the other four.
Circle dancing while singing ballads are a historic part of the folk traditions of all of northern Europe. Only the Faroe Islands have maintained this tradition to the present day, though it has been revived in some other areas. Iceland is home to many ancient musical practices no longer found elsewhere in the Nordic area, such as the use of parallel fifths and organum.
Circle dance, or chain dance, is a style of dance done in a circle or semicircle to musical accompaniment, such as rhythm instruments and singing. Circle dancing is probably the oldest known dance formation and was part of community life from when people first started to dance.
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French chanson balladée or ballade, which were originally "danced songs". Ballads were particularly characteristic of the popular poetry and song of Britain and Ireland from the later medieval period until the 19th century. They were widely used across Europe, and later in Australia, North Africa, North America and South America. Ballads are often 13 lines with an ABABBCBC form, consisting of couplets of rhymed verse, each of 14 syllables. Another common form is ABAB or ABCB repeated, in alternating 8 and 6 syllable lines.
The Faroe Islands, or the Faeroe Islands, is a North Atlantic archipelago located 320 kilometres (200 mi) north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. The islands have a total area of about 1,400 square kilometres (540 sq mi) with a population of 51,783 as of June 2019.
Greenland's Inuit population has their own musical traditions, which have been melded with elements of Nordic music, such as the kalattuut style of Danish polka.
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting Inuit Nunangat, the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Alaska. The Inuit languages are part of the Eskimo–Aleut family. Inuit Sign Language is a critically endangered language isolate used in Nunavut.
Traditional Inuit music, the music of the Inuit, has been based on drums used in dance music as far back as can be known, and a vocal style called katajjaq has become of interest in Canada and abroad. Yupik music is the music of the Yupik peoples. Eskimo music is Inuit-Yupik music. Iñupiat music is the music of the Iñupiat.
The polka is originally a Bohemian dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. The polka remains a popular folk music genre in many European countries, and is performed by folk artists in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia and Finland, and to a lesser extent in Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. Local varieties of this dance are also found in the other Nordic countries, Spain's Basque Country, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America, Canada and the United States.
Finland was long ruled by Sweden, so much of Finnish culture is influenced by Swedish. There are a number of Swedes living in Finland, and vice versa. These communities have produced traditional and neo-folk musicians like the Swedish-Finn Scea Jansson and Gjallarhorn, and the Finnish-Swedish Norrlåtar and JP Nyströms.
Gjallarhorn is a Finnish band that performs world music with roots in the folk music of Finland and Sweden. The group was formed in 1994. The band's music echoes the ancient folk music tradition of Scandinavia with medieval ballads, minuets, prayers in runo-metric chanting and ancient Icelandic rímur epics in a modern way.
Finland's musical ties are primarily to the Balto-Finnic peoples of Russia and Estonia (Cronshaw, 91). Runolaulu (runo-song) is a kind of song found throughout this area. Estonia and Finland both have national epics based on interconnected forms of runo-song, Kalevipoeg and Kalevala , respectively. "Estonian runo-song has the same basic form as the Finnish variety to which it is related: the line has eight beats, the melody rarely spans more than the first five notes of a diatonic scale and its short phrases tend to use descending patterns" (Cronshaw, 16).
Baltic psalteries are a family of related plucked box zithers played throughout Finland (kantele), the Baltic states (kannel in Estonia, kanklės in Lithuania and kokles in Latvia respectively) and northwest Russia (krylovidnye gusli). A bowed lyre (Swedish tagelharpa, Estonian talharpa or hiiurootsi kannel, Finnish jouhikko or jouhikantele) was formerly played among Swedes living in Estonia, but usage declined until a recent revival. In the 19th century, all the Baltic states saw an influx of foreign instruments and styles, resulting in fusions like the zither kokles and German-influenced ziņģe singing style of Latvia.
The Sami are found in Norway, Sweden, Finland and the northwest corner of Russia. The only traditional Sami instruments are drums and the flute, though modern bands use a variety of instrumentation. Joiks, unrhymed works without definite structure, are the most characteristic kind of song.
The Nordic Council is the official body for formal inter-parliamentary co-operation among the Nordic countries. Formed in 1952, it has 87 representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as well as from the autonomous areas of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland Islands. The representatives are members of parliament in their respective countries or areas and are elected by those parliaments. The Council holds ordinary sessions each year in October/November and usually one extra session per year with a specific theme.
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and the Baltic Sea countries refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe.
The recorded history of music in Estonia dates back as far as the 12th century. The older folksongs, referred to as runic songs, are in the poetic metre regivärss the tradition shared by all Baltic Finns. These were gradually replaced by rhythmic folksongs in the 18th century.
Gusli is the oldest East Slavic multi-string plucked instrument, belonging to the zither family, due to its strings being parallel to its resonance board. Its roots lie in Veliky Novgorod in Novgorodian Rus'. It may have a connection to the Byzantine form of the Greek kythare, which in turn derived from the ancient lyre, or might have been imported from Western and Central Europe during the Middle Ages, when the zither had immense popularity. It has its relatives in Europe and throughout the world: kantele in Finland, kannel in Estonia, kanklės in Lithuania, kokles in Latvia, Zitter in Germany, citera in Czechia, psalterium in France and so on... Furthermore, the kanun has been found in Arabic countries, and the autoharp, in the United States. It is also related to such ancient instruments as Chinese gu zheng, which has a thousand-year history, and its Japanese relative koto. A stringed musical instrument called guslim is listed as one of the Me in ancient Sumer.
The kanklės is a Lithuanian plucked string instrument (chordophone) belonging to the Baltic box zither family known as the Baltic psaltery, along with the Latvian kokles, Estonian kannel, Finnish kantele, and Russian gusli.
The Nordic cross flag is any of certain flags bearing the design of the Nordic or Scandinavian cross, a cross symbol in a rectangular field, with the center of the cross shifted towards the hoist.
Kokle or historically kokles (kūkles) is a Latvian plucked string instrument (chordophone) belonging to the Baltic box zither family known as the Baltic psaltery along with Lithuanian kanklės, Estonian kannel, Finnish kantele, and Russian gusli. The first possible kokles related archaeological findings in the territory of modern Latvia are from the 13th century, while the first reliable written information about kokles playing comes from the beginning of the 17th century. The first known kokles tune was notated in 1891, but the first kokles recordings into gramophone records and movies were made in 1930s. Both kokles and kokles playing are included in the Latvian Cultural Canon.
Kannel is an Estonian plucked string instrument (chordophone) belonging to the Baltic box zither family known as the Baltic psaltery along with Finnish kantele, Latvian kokles, Lithuanian kanklės, and Russian gusli. The Estonian kannel has a variety of traditional tunings. In Estonia, studying the kannel has made a resurgence after some years of decline.
Scandinavian Americans are Americans of Nordic, or part-Nordic ancestry, defined in this article to include Danish Americans, Faroese Americans, Finnish Americans, Greenlandic Americans, Icelandic Americans, Norwegian Americans, Sami Americans, and Swedish Americans. Also included are persons who reported 'Northern European' ancestry or 'Scandinavian' ancestry. According to 2010 census data, there are approximately 11,890,524 people of Scandinavian ancestry in the United States.
The Nordic Council Music Prize is awarded annually by NOMUS, the Nordic Music Committee. Every two years it is awarded for a work by a living composer. In the intervening years it is awarded to a performing musician or ensemble.
Scandinavian studies is an interdisciplinary academic field of area studies, mainly in the United States and Germany, that covers topics related to Scandinavia and the Nordic countries, including languages, literatures, histories, cultures and societies. The term Scandinavia mainly refers to Denmark, Norway and Sweden, although the term Scandinavian in an ethnic, cultural and linguistic sense also refers to the peoples and languages of the Faroe Islands and Iceland, and the Scandinavian-speaking minority in Finland. Scandinavian studies does not exist as a separate field within Scandinavia or the Nordic countries themselves, as its scope would be considered far too broad to be treated meaningfully within a single discipline. The closest related field in Scandinavia would be the more narrow discipline of Nordic linguistics, which covers North Germanic languages. A major focus of Scandinavian studies is the teaching of Scandinavian languages, especially the three large languages Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.
The Nordic agrarian parties, also referred to as Nordic Centre parties or Agrarian Liberal parties are agrarian political parties that belong to a political tradition particular to the Nordic countries. Positioning themselves in the centre of the political spectrum, but fulfilling roles distinctive to Nordic countries, they remain hard to classify by conventional political ideology.
Foreningen Norden, Föreningen Norden (Swedish), Norræna félagið (Icelandic), Norrøna Felagið (Faroese), Peqatigiiffik Nunat Avannarliit (Greenlandic) and Pohjola-Norden (Finnish), The Norden Associations, sometimes referred to as The Nordic Associations are non-governmental organisations in the Nordic countries promoting civil cooperation between the Nordic countries. Established since 1919, there are Norden Associations in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland. Since 1965 these national branches are grouped in an umbrella organisation Foreningene Nordens Forbund (FNF), The Confederation of Norden Associations. The co-operation between the Nordic countries include projects such as Nordjobb, Nordic Library Week and Norden at the Cinema.
The Baltoscandian Confederation or Baltoscandia is a geopolitical concept of a Baltic–Scandinavian union. The idea was proposed by a Swedish professor Sten de Geer (1886–1933) in the journal Geografiska Annaler in 1928 and further developed by Professor Kazys Pakštas (1893–1960), a Lithuanian scientist in the field of geography and geopolitics.
The Nordic Quizzing Championships is a bi-annual quiz event in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Top quizzers from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Åland Islands, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are invited.
Baltic psaltery is a family of related plucked box zithers historically found in the south east vicinity of the Baltic Sea and played by the Baltic people, Finnic people, Volga Finns and northwestern Russians.