The Nature of Nordic Music: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Nature of Nordic Music

1st Edition

Edited by Tim Howell


280 pages | 27 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138207189
pub: 2019-10-08
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The Nature of Nordic Music explores two distinctive yet complementary understandings of the term ‘nature’: the inherent features, characters and qualities of contemporary Nordic music, and how the elemental forces of nature, the phenomena of the physical world (landscape, climate, environment) inspire and condition creativity here.

Within a broader debate about the meaning of ‘Nordicness’, 12 case studies challenge our assumptions about a ‘Nordic tone’ to reveal a creative energy that is diverse and cosmopolitan in outlook. Each of the three sections of the book – Identities, Images and Environments – accommodates an eclectic array of musical genres (classical, popular, jazz, folk, electronic).

This book will appeal to anyone interested in Nordic music and culture, especially students and researchers.

Table of Contents


1. Nordicness in Scandinavian Music: A Complex Question

Michael Fjeldsøe & Sanne Krogh Groth

2. Escaping Nordic Musical Exoticism?

Hans Weisethaunet

3. In Search of the Nordic Electroacoustic

Andrew Bentley & James Andean

4. Starting from Scratch: Nation-building and the Creation of an Icelandic Choral Tradition

Árni Heimir Ingólfsson



5. Not Nordic Enough? 'Nordic Cool' as a Janus-headed Strategy for Artistic Inclusion and Expulsion

Henrik Marstal

6. ‘And Björk of course’ – The Image of Icelandic Music

Margrét Sigrún Sigurðardóttir

7. Cold Commodities: Discourses of Decay and Purity in a Globalised Jazz World

Haftor Medboe

8. Folk and Popular Music in the Nordic Countries

Tor Dybo



9. Ecocriticism and the Anthropocene in the Water Soundscape Composition Contest

Meri Kytö

10. Nordic Drone: Pedal-points and Static Textures as Musical Imagery of the Northerly Environment

Juha Torvinen & Susanna Välimäki

11. Telling the Time: Communication and Temporality in Nordic New Music Tim Howell & Richard Powell

12. Sigur Rós: Talking Timbre

Michael Rofe

List of Contributors

James Andean is a musician and sound artist, active as both a composer and a performer in a range of fields, including acousmatic music and improvisation. He studied at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts, Helsinki, Finland and is Senior Lecturer in Music, Technology & Innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. 

Andrew Bentley is Professor of Music Technology at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts, Helsinki, Finland. An electronic musician and performer, he has a longstanding background as a composer, studio designer, and software developer, with several years of service also in the music business; he has developed an artistic orientation that combines electronic improvisation with performance art, which he calls sound theatre.

Tor Dybo is Professor of Musicology at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway, where he is leader of the PhD programme in popular music performance. He is the author of two monographs: Jan Garbarek: Det åpne roms estetikk (Pax, 1996) and Representasjonsformer i jazz og populærmusikkanalyse (Akademika, 2013), has published extensively on jazz analysis, popular music and ethnomusicological topics and is currently preparing a book on the British folk-rock band Fairport Convention.

Michael Fjeldsøe is Professor of Musicology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, working on 19th and 20th century art music. After finishing his second dissertation on engaged and applied art music in Denmark, Kulturradikalismens musik, he is now preparing a book on Carl Nielsen.

Árni Heimir Ingólfsson is a performer and musicologist who holds a research position at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, as well as a visiting Professorship at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. His research focuses on the transmission of music to and within Iceland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and Icelandic music of the twentieth century; an English version of his biography of Icelandic composer Jón Leifs is forthcoming with Indiana University Press.


Tim Howell is Professor of Music at the University of York, UK where he specialises in the analysis of new music. An internationally recognised authority on the music of Sibelius, his research has now broadened to encompass contemporary Finnish music as reflected in two major publications: After Sibelius: Studies in Finnish Music (Ashgate, 2006) and Kaija Saariaho: Visions, Narratives, Dialogues (Ashgate. 2011); he was guest Editor of a Contemporary Music Review volume: ‘Musical Narratives: Studies in Time & Motion’ (Vol.33 No.4) contributing an article on Magnus Lindberg.

Sanne Krogh Groth is an Associate Professor of Musicology at the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden. She specialises in 20th and 21st century contemporary music, EAM and sound art, recently focusing on global developments within this field; from 2011 she has been the editor of the on-line journal Seismograf.

Meri Kytö is a postdoctoral researcher in music studies at the University of Tampere, and docent of cultural study of sound at the University of Eastern Finland. Her previous work has explored sonic domestication and articulations of acoustic privacy, soundscapes of political protest, busking, football fans, and public libraries, and her current research focuses on sensory agency and technology.

Henrik Marstal, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a former member of the Danish Arts Foundation and has had a long-standing career as a musician and producer within the genres of rock and electronica.  

Haftor Medboe is Associate Professor/Jazz Musician in Residence, School of Arts and Creative Industries, Edinburgh Napier University, UK where he teaches across a broad portfolio of music studies including jazz improvisation and popular music composition. His research is currently focused on communities and boundaries within national jazz scenes and he remains active as a composer, performer and recording artist.


Richard Powell is Associate Lecturer in the Department of Music, University of York, UK where he teaches in the fields of music analysis, musicology and music education. He has published research on issues of musical timescale in Contemporary Music Review, and his work currently focuses on the use of analytical strategies to inform and enrich pedagogical approaches.

Michael Rofe is Director of Music at Trinity College London, and Visiting Professor of Music at Falmouth University, UK. Author of Dimensions of Energy in Shostakovich’s Symphonies, (Ashgate, 2012), and Principal Investigator for Online Orchestra (Journal of Music, Technology and Education, 10/2-3, 2017), his research encompasses musicology, music technology and music education. 

Margrét Sigrún Sigurðardóttir is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business Administration, School of Social Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland. She has worked on various research projects concerning the creative industries, in both academic and applied contexts, such as Icelandic Music Export as well as the state and municipalities in Iceland.

Juha Torvinen is Academy of Finland Research Fellow at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts, Helsinki and holds the Title of Docent (habilitation) in musicology in Universities of Helsinki and Turku. His areas of expertise include music’s relationship to nature, Finnish music of the 20th and 21st centuries, and philosophy of music.

Susanna Välimäki is a Senior Lecturer in Musicology, University of Turku, Finland and has published several books on classical, popular and film music, reflecting her interests in cultural music analysis and socially critical art. She also works as a music critic and produces radio and television programmes for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE).


Hans Weisethaunet is Professor of Music in the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo, Norway and has published widely in popular music studies, ethnomusicology, jazz, and on rock criticism. His areas of expertise include the cultural study of music in the Nordic countries, in Nepal, as well as in New Orleans, LA.

About the Editor

Tim Howell is Professor of Music at the University of York, UK where he specialises in the analysis of new music. As an internationally recognised authority on the music of Sibelius, his research has now broadened to encompass contemporary Finnish music.

His major publications include After Sibelius: Studies in Finnish Music and Kaija Saariaho: Visions, Narratives, Dialogues.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General