Icelandic Men and Me: Sagas of Singing, Self and Everyday Life, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Icelandic Men and Me

Sagas of Singing, Self and Everyday Life, 1st Edition

By Robert Faulkner


252 pages

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Hardback: 9781409449768
pub: 2013-04-15
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315252834
pub: 2019-10-28
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A sparsely populated island in the North Atlantic recently made worldwide headlines in the Global Financial Crisis and for volcanic eruptions that caused unprecedented chaos to international air travel. Large contemporary audiences have formed very different images of Iceland through the vocal music and music videos of Björk and Sigur Rós. Just below the Arctic Circle, Icelandic men engage in more everyday vocal practices, where singing, literally for one's Self, is an everyday life skill set against a backdrop of unique natural, historical, economic and social phenomena. Their sagas of song and singing are the subject of this book. The original Icelandic Sagas - among the most important collections of medieval European literature - are valued for richly detailed portrayals of individual lives. This book's principle protagonists and collaborators share a heritage where Sagas remain central to national and local identity. While the oral traditions associated with them were largely overwhelmed by European romanticism just over a hundred years ago, ironically, this new vocal music became a key technology for national renewal. Written by an ’immigrant’ musician who lived in a remote Icelandic community for over twenty years, this volume focuses upon individual and collective stories about singing as personal and social work. Drawing upon everyday ethnographic and sociological studies of music, and emerging discourse about musical identity, the study uses anthropological, historical and musicological evidence in thinking about songs, singing and Self, and the genderedness of this particular singing practice.


’Faulker's Icelandic Men and Me: Sagas of Singing, Self and Everyday Life has documented the lived experience behind, above, below, and beyond the social organization of men's singing habits, whether they are comforting their child for an evening, keeping themselves company in the barn, or getting out to their choir practices despite weather, pressing chores, and limited transportation. Song glues together the sense of self, the awareness of community, and the tangibility of nation, rendering life itself as a ’musical event’’. American Book Review ’Faulkner’s methods for researching, analysing, and theorizing these topics are impressively interdisciplinary … The insights garnered from his personal experiences as first conductor and teacher and later researcher in the local musical community give the volume a strong ethnographic feel, which is complemented by brief but engaging sections of auto-ethnography. The integration of these multidisciplinary approaches is highly effective and will probably serve as a model for others’. Music and Letters

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Telling tales and setting the scene; Baldur’s Saga; Icelandic sagas and songs; Singing social connections; Songworlds: the body and vocal places; Songs, spirituality and self therapy; Singing himself: singing and the construction of gender identity; My saga; Vocal events and singing’s agency in change; Conclusions, closure and the vocal celebration of self; Gallery; Bibliogaphy, sound and film recordings; Index.

About the Author

Robert Faulkner, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, University of Reading and University of Sheffield, is a musician, educator and researcher who lived and worked in the UK and Iceland before his present appointment at the University of Western Australia. His research interests and publications focus on interdisciplinary approaches to the contextualized study of everyday music practices and music learning.

About the Series

SOAS Studies in Music Series

SOAS Musicology Series is today one of the world’s leading series in the discipline of ethnomusicology. Our core mission is to produce high-quality, ethnographically rich studies of music-making in the world’s diverse musical cultures. We publish monographs and edited volumes that explore musical repertories and performance practice, critical issues in ethnomusicology, sound studies, historical and analytical approaches to music across the globe. We recognize the value of applied, interdisciplinary and collaborative research, and our authors draw on current approaches in musicology and anthropology, psychology, media and gender studies. We welcome monographs that investigate global contemporary, classical and popular musics, the effects of digital mediation and transnational flows.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / International