SKÁLD is a unique music project inspired by Nordic mythology. Share this link:

Developed over time by a group of enthusiasts, the project originated when producer-composer Christophe Voisin-Boisvinet encountered a trio of talented singers whose voices had atypical timbres. Together they decided to breathe new life into the poetry of the ancient skalds, whose ancient language – Old Norse – told stories of the Vikings and their gods.

Where Did Skald Get It’s Name?

In the early Middle Ages, the skalds of Scandinavian society were storytellers, poets and musicians. In the same way as the bards of the Celts, they sang the praises of their bloodlines, narrating the epic feats of heroes or the exploits of their gods in times when the oral tradition was sovereign.

Blending chanted narratives with rhythmical song — in a combination carried by music that often led to a state of trance — the skalds captivated their listeners with the power of the images they evoked. Skaldic poetry is extremely strong, with a rich vocabulary and often complex verses that confer a mysterious aura on the meaning, conferring the status of an initiate on the author of such works. It can also be noted that this narrative role was not reserved for men alone, as the names of several female skalds are known to us.

What Was the Role of Ancient Skalds?

Alas, very little information exists as to the origins and function of these skalds. Were they heirs to the shamans, part-sorcerer and part-magician? Did they play a ritualistic or cultural role? Today, nobody can be certain. Thanks to some unique documents, however — like the wonderfully poetic Edda, an anthology of poems we owe to the Icelander Snorri Sturluson — part of the Skaldic legacy has come down to us over the centuries.

It is that legacy which the ambitious music project SKÁLD brings to life again today by immersing the listener in a rich, evocative soundscape created using a broad palette of instruments chosen specially for the occasion. Tribal percussion, with drums of varying sizes, are used to evoke strength and victory. Other smaller percussion — like bones taken from animals, or deer antlers — has pagan inspiration, while the musicality of stringed instruments like the lyre, the talharpa, the citole played with a bow, the jouhikko, and the nyckelharpa or keyed harp, reveals the wealth of Scandinavia’s culture.

The SKÁLD Vocal Project – Ancient Viking Music For Post-Modern Ears

SKÁLD is above all a vocal project, carried by three singers who are specialists in the song techniques of the skalds, singing that has come down to us by means of the rare surviving accounts of the period. Making use of the full power of their voices and extraordinary tessituras, their songs, whether guttural or lyrical — yet always profound and organic — give birth to a multitude of strong, evocative images.

The SKÁLD project has just released a new album called Vikings Chant.

Justine Galmiche, Pierrick Valence and Mattjö Haussy all come from different worlds in music, although all share a mastery of vocal technique and perfect knowledge of Scandinavian cultures. All three play ancient instruments, and they have studied ancient languages or taken part in historical reconstructions of the Viking era.

The group’s repertoire takes its inspiration particularly from La Völuspá and Gylfaginning, both of which are contained in the poetic Edda. These texts, which Christophe Voisin-Boisvinet brought together especially for this project, before adapting them and setting them to music, deal with Scandinavian cosmogony as well as mythological episodes featuring the gods of Ásgard. The singers of the SKÁLD ensemble also bring the runic alphabet back to life, throwing light on the symbolic places of the Vikings’ universe such as Valhalla or the nine kingdoms of Yggdrasill, and painting portraits of titanic confrontations between Ases and giants.J

All of this sends the listener back a thousand years, to raids led by Vikings and times when savagery rivaled with subtlety. The SkaldVikings will plunge you into a distant tale, one that takes its source in a primeval age when the kings from the seas of the North caused empires to tremble…

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