Q: Is it known what music of the Viking age sounded like? Are there any modern recordings available of what it would have sounded like?
Debbie Espen, Idaho, USA
A: According to an answer musicologist Bjarki Sveinbjörnsson posted on the University of Iceland’s Science Web, not much is known about musical instruments in the Viking Era, but many sources quote beautiful voiced singing.
Fimmundarsöngur or tvísöngur (“two part singing”) where two persons sing together and one of the singers one fifth lower than the other, is believed to be a Viking musical heritage. Einar Kristjánsson from 12 Tónar music store said an album featuring such music called Tvísöngur, or Two Part Singing in English, can be ordered via [email protected]. The oldest song is from 1473.
Langspil is an Icelandic string instrument, zither in box form played with a horsehair bow, which was widely used in Iceland after 1550 and until the end of the 19th century. There are no examples of music played with langspil available at 12 Tónar, but you can watch it played on YouTube by clicking here. If you would like to buy such an instrument, it can be provided by Tónabúdin instrument store ([email protected]).