Norwegian Music: The Best of the Instrumental Genre

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Norwegian music is some of the best in the world, and the instrumental genre is no exception. From the country’s rich folk traditions to its more modern classical and jazz influences, Norwegian musicians have produced some truly exceptional work. In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best Norwegian instrumentalists and their music.


Norwegian music is as varied as the country’s scenery, including traditional and contemporary folk music, classical music, jazz, rock, and pop. While some Norwegian composers have achieved international fame, such as Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull, Norway’s most popular form of music is vocal music sung in the country’s native language. In fact, Norwegians often say that “the best way to experience Norwegian culture is through its music.”

Instrumental Norwegian music includes a wide range of genres and styles, from the traditional Hardanger fiddle music of the west to the joik singing of the Sami people of the north. While some forms of Norwegian instrumental music are world-renowned, such as the Hardanger fiddle and joik, others are lesser known but no less impressive. This article will introduce you to some of the best Norwegian instrumentalists and their music.

Traditional Norwegian Music

Norwegian music has a long and rich history, dating back to the Viking age. Norwegian music was primarily an oral tradition until the 13th century. Folk music was the predominant genre until the 18th century, when classical music began to take hold. The 19th century saw the rise of Romanticism, and Norwegian composers such as Edvard Grieg and Johan Svendsen began to gain international recognition. The 20th century saw the emergence of jazz and rock music, and Norway has produced a number of world-renowned musicians in these genres.

Hardanger fiddle

The Hardanger fiddle is a traditional stringed instrument used in the folk music of Norway. The instrument is similar to a regular violin, but has an extra set of strings that vibrate sympathetically with the other strings to create a unique sound. The Hardanger fiddle is usually played with a bow, and the music often features complex rhythms and improvisation.


Joik is a type of traditional singing unique to the Sami people of Northern Europe. Joik was historically passed down orally from one generation to the next, and was used as a way to communicate history, legends, and personal experiences. Today, joik is enjoying a revival among the Sami people, and has even been adopted by non-Sami artists. Joik is characterized by its freeform nature and repetitive melodies.


Lyd is a sub-genre of Norwegian music that traditionally features only instrumental pieces. The lyd genre dates back hundreds of years, and its popularity has waxed and waned throughout the years. In the past, lyd was commonly played at dances and other social events. Today, it is not as popular as it once was, but there are still many fans of the genre.

Lyd is characterized by its use of traditional Norwegian instruments, such as the Hardanger fiddle, the willow flute, and the langleik (a type of zither). Lyd pieces often have a simple melody that is repeated throughout the piece. The tempo of lyd pieces can vary, but they often have a moderate or slow tempo.

If you are interested in listening to some traditional Norwegian lyd music, there are many albums available online and in music stores. You can also find videos of live performances on YouTube and other websites.

Contemporary Norwegian Music

Norwegian music spans a wide range, from the traditional to the contemporary. The instrumental genre, in particular, has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best contemporary Norwegian instrumental music.


Jazz has been described as “the sound of surprise”. With its roots in the blues, African American spirituals, work songs and folk music, Jazz originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in African American communities in the American South. improvisation, polyrhythms, call and response vocals and swing are characteristic features of jazz.

Norwegian jazz has been influenced by American jazz since the 1920s. important Norwegian jazz musicians include Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal and Bugge Wesseltoft.


Though it may be Avenged Sevenfold or Slayer if you’re in America, the top of the Norwegian popular music scene is a little different. In Norway, a popular subgenre is what’s known as “indie-folk,” which combines traditional acoustic instruments with modern production techniques and often features ethereal vocals. These are some of the most popular bands in that genre in Norway today.

Of Monsters and Men is an Icelandic-American indie folk band that formed in 2010 and consists of co-lead vocalists and guitarists Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” þórhallsson, drummer Arnar Rönning, lead guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, trumpet player and keyboardist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson, and bassist Samúel Jón Samúelsson. The band won widespread acclaim after the release of their debut album My Head Is an Animal in 2011, which included the hit single “Little Talks.”

The Paper Kites are an Australian indie rock-folk band from Melbourne, Victoria. The band consists of Sam Bentley (lead vocals, electric guitar), Christina Lacy (bass guitar), David Powys (drums), Steve Hyde (lead guitar) and Melbourne multi-instrumentalist Sam Koide (banjo, acoustic guitar). The band released their debut album States in 2011 to critical acclaim. The singles “Bloom” and “Featherstone” became hits on Australian radio stations Triple J and Triple M respectively.

First Aid Kit is a Swedish folk duo that consists of sisters Johanna Söderberg (vocals/autoharp/keyboards) and Klara Söderberg (vocals/guitar). The duo garnered attention with their YouTube cover of Fleet Foxes’ song “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” which led to them being signed by Wichita Recordings for the release of their debut album Drunken Trees in 2008. Since then, they have released three more albums: The Big Black and the Blue (2010), Stay Gold (2014), and Ruins (2018).


Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated in the United States in the 1950s. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew inspiration from jazz, folk music, and classical music.

The term “rock and roll” was originally used to describe the musical style of rock music, but it came to be used as both a musical genre and as a descriptor for the countercultural movement that developed in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. Rock music was strongly influenced by the African-American genres of blues and rhythm and blues, both of which had developed in the first half of the twentieth century.

Rock music is characterized by distorted guitars, powerful rhythms, and vocal styles that range from shouting to whispering. The genre has been described as “a fusion of black and white cultures”, with rock becoming “the sound of Young America”. It is sometimes called “penicillin for the soul”, because it has been seen as a remedy for social ills.

The popularity of rock music continued through the 1960s and 1970s with bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, Kiss, AC/DC, Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Jean-Michel Jarre, Boston; Pat Metheny Group; Pink Floyd; Yes; Rush; Genesis (band), ELO , Supertramp , Sting , Eagles , Heart , Steve Miller Band , Styx


If you are a fan of the instrumental genre, then Norwegian music is definitely worth exploring. The best-known Norwegian artist in this genre is probably Geirr Tveitt, but there are many other talented musicians worth checking out. Yngve Solli, Lars Gullin, and Terje Rypdal are just a few of the other artists who have made a name for themselves in the world of Norwegian instrumental music.

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