‘The Music of Iceland Inspired by Elves?’: Essentialisation of Icelandic popular music

Tegund verkefnis: Fyrirlestur
Titill: ‘The Music of Iceland Inspired by Elves?’: Essentialisation of Icelandic popular music
Fagsvið: Tónlistarflutningur, Tónlistarfræði
Tímabil: 11. Sept. 2014 - 14. Sept. 2014
Vettvangur: Worlds of Popular Music: IASPM UK and Ireland Biennial Conference, University College, Cork, Írlandi
Efnisorð: Popptónlist, náttúra, Landslag, nostalgía
Lýsing: At the turn of the 20th Century, when Icelanders were struggling for independence from the Danish Crown, music played a large role in forging a specific Icelandic culture, which was seen to be important for an independent nation. Later, music is still perceived to be a vital part of the national discourse: Björk states that the Icelandic punk scene in the 1980s was partly a musical declaration of independence, as it was only then that people dared to be proud of being Icelandic (Magnússon, 2005). With increased popularity of Icelandic music within the international sphere, music has been utilised to raise awareness of the country and to promote it. Iceland, its people, and its culture are commonly perceived by outsiders as “weird” and “eccentric”, and its music is received as if it is shaped by Iceland’s landscape. These images have influenced the national identity in Iceland, which is constantly developing and seems to be especially weak to sway from abroad. In my paper I will investigate the role of music in negotiating cultural and national identity in the contemporary Icelandic popular music scene. My argument is that the essentialisation of Icelandic music allows it to be used for nationalist purposes, and that this has important consequences for Iceland’s cultural, social and economic situation.