Listen to Icelandic Folk Music

Image of Gullfoss courtesy of Maria MagneaI’m a fan of instrumental music and often search out compositions for writing. Music is inspiring in multiple ways, but lyrics too often interfere with my ability to transfer thoughts onto the page. Yes, I’m quite linear in that way. Many instruments, common in other parts of the world, sound strange to my ears – which is excellent fodder for world-building – and over time I’ve discovered wonderful results. Try out these listens for a unique but rich experience:


Á Sprengisandi


If you enjoyed the sound of these samples, you can explore the full experience by picking up a CD or two at your favorite retailer. Here’s one I found on Amazon – and this one – and another. The contents aren’t all instrumental, and the wavering quality of the vocals might take some practice getting used to, but give it a try. Expand your horizons.

image of Iceland courtesy of Piotr Wotjkowski

Listen up and then we’ll meet in Iceland and see if we can find the real thing. And we’ll try eating hakarl – a local cuisine made of fermented shark meat – because that’s what you do when you go places you’ve never been. Right? Okay?

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  1. #1 by Patricia Sands on January 13, 2014 - 4:31 am

    Well, that was a new experience. I found the music distinctively haunting but for some reason constantly visualized scenes from Lord Of The Rings throughout each piece. Thanks for the introduction!

    • #2 by Lesann Berry on January 15, 2014 - 3:40 pm

      There is a lovely haunting quality (I know spooky stuff isn’t your thing!). The connect to Tolkien’s work makes sense to me. He drew so successfully on traditional myth and legend, artistry and design for his stories, it makes sense that when we encounter the inspiration that we link it to his work. In the case of Iceland, the music really fits the landscape. Wonderful place.

  2. #3 by Stacy Claflin on January 14, 2014 - 8:55 am

    Love these. Thank you! Iceland is the largest piece of my varied heritage. Iceland even plays a large part in one of my fiction series. I’d love to go there one day.

    • #4 by Lesann Berry on January 15, 2014 - 3:41 pm

      Lucky you – drawing part of your heritage from Iceland. Wonderful landscape and people there – we should all go. They could use the tourism. We could make it a writing trip. And we could try the local food – even if we aren’t quite brave enough to give the hakarl a lick. I love the music too, so glad you enjoyed the sampler.

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