Although there is scant written record of what kind of music was played in Norway but there is a vast audio record which provides some insight to this. Minor or Modal scales with a sober and haunting sound form the music of Norway. There is very little written record to give the background of the origin and existence of music but it is learned that religious and traditional music prevailed. Like many other countries, Norway too experienced a revival in the 20th century. Ballads and short songs are the common types of traditional or folk songs.
Other popular kind of folk music is hymns, work songs, trialling vocals skillingsviser. Like the nearby countries of Sweden and Denmark, Norway too has a Nordic dance music tradition. The most distinctive instrument in Norwegian folk music is hardingfele. Bygdedans including halling, pols, springleik, rull, gangar and springar are the traditional dances of Norway. They were performed on important events such as weddings, funerals etc and were called the Courting Dances. Few dances were also brought from Europe like the fandango, reinlender, waltz polka and mazurka. Norwegian harp, bukkehorn, harpeleik, lur are a few other traditional instruments.
A movement throughout Europe, National Romanticism, affected classical musicians as well as the classical musicology. Bull was the first to present folk tunes to the public in urban areas. The urban audiences were slow in responding and understanding the traditional music. With the booming economy after the French Revolution, many foreign musicians settled in Norway and hence, contributed a lot to Norwegian music. Many female musicians were widely accepted and were paid well. Music post World War II addressed social and political concerns.
Many technological developments with a variety of electronic effects and peculiar instruments took place post World War II. By the end of the 20th century, Norwegian classical music had become very diverse, incorporating elements from throughout the country’s documented musical history, as well as modern jazz, pop and rock.
Norway has originated its own music too it has expressed its breakthrough in jazz, blackmetal, electronica and pop artists. Knut Reiersrud is one of Norway’s top blues guitarist. Titanic, the film, brought worldwide popularity to Sissel Kyrkjebo, a Norwegian singer, also known as Sissel. She had recorded a soundtrack for the film. The Norwegian rock scene comprises bands such as Turbonegro, Bigbang, Madrugada, Kaizers, Orchestra and Gate. Along with Sweden and Finland, Norway too has been a major player in the extreme metal scene and few bands which performed in genre and attained popularity are Dimmu Borgir, Burzum, Immortal, Emperor, Enslaved, Mayhem Gorgoroth, and Darkthrone.