Danish Language Blog

The Joy of Being a Folk Musician Posted by on Aug 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Folk musicians Maja and Eigil.

From ’Barbie Girl’ to the upbeat reggae of the late icon Natasja, modern Danish music is as cosmopolitan as ever. For some people, however, nothing beats the groove of traditional folk music. I met passionate fiddlers Maja and Eigil at the dock of the bay…


How long have you been playing folk music?

Maja and Eigil: 10 years, maybe?


In your opinion, what is so fascinating about folk music?

Eigil: I’d say it is the community. Just being together in our group, playing, jamming, listening – that’s what’s fascinating me.

Maja: I think it’s wonderful to get together with all these young people, and then just play along and watch what happens. That makes me so happy!


What makes Danish folk music different from folk music in other countries?

Maja and Eigil: The melodies are dead simple, and you just can’t get them out of your mind! And then we use the violin a lot, in some other countries they may be more used to wind instruments.


In case some of our readers are thinking: ’Wow, that sounds cool, I’d like to hear some more’. Where should they go?

Eigil: They should go to Århus! Well, there are quite a lot of cd’s available; they are typically called something with the word spillemand (folk musician). You’ve also got modern bands that are taking the traditional styles in new directions, like ’Haugård og Højrup’ or ’Trio Mio’. ’Tumult’ is a very notable band, since they mix folk music with elements from rock ’n’ roll.


How about the texts, do they matter in your genre?

Eigil: Well, sometimes. Most Danish folk music is instrumental, though, and has got no text. But there are a lot of traditional ballads, that we like to sing at gatherings. Some of them have a very rude content and are mainly about sex or drinking.


Nowadays people from many different cultures have come to make a living in Denmark. Is that something that can be felt in the modern folk music?

Eigil: That’s too early to say. We’ve got a lot of influences from, say, Eastern European and Irish folk music. But we haven’t yet been able to integrate the music of the Middle East and Western Asia, where most of the immigrants come from. I hope that will happen!

Maja: I’d like to mention the Kurdish folk dance. You dance it in a line, and it is almost the same as the traditional dance here in Denmark!


What is the best about being a folk musician?

Eigil: Playing together. It’s an entirely different way of partying.

Maja: All of it!


Thanks a lot for the interview, and good luck with the music!


Here’s a video of the band ’Tumult’ playing ’Kattens ligfærd’ – ’The cat’s funeral’. Note the refrain Nu er katten død, død – ’Now the cat is dead, dead’.

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.