Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Music

Major

Music

Major Professor

Leslie C. Gay

Committee Members

Rachel Golden, Andrew Bliss

Abstract

Originating in the 14th century, rímur continues to remain a significant tradition in Iceland. Rímur melodies, together with the texts of Icelandic Edda and Saga poetry, were the main form of household entertainment in Iceland for almost six centuries until modern, global technologies cultivated new interests. In the early 20th century, rímur enthusiasts gathered together to form the Iðunn Society of Intoners and Versifiers in Reykjavík, to preserve the singing traditions of their ancestors. Since then, numerous other societies have organized, many within the past decade. In this way, intoning societies have become a medium through which a national Icelandic identity is formed. At the same time, Iceland has witnessed a boom of tourism. I argue this contemporary practice of rímur reflects a nationalistic sensibility within intoning societies, in reaction to tourism and other globalized influences.

Drawing from Tim Ingold’s (2011) concern for sound as lived experience and Anna Tsing’s (2005) analysis of friction in globalized space, I examine how intoning societies sonically represent the lived Icelandic experiences among these communities in the face of increased tourism, conflicts, and frictions between local and global perceptions of Icelandic identity. Additionally, I draw upon the work of ecomusicologists Aaron Allen and Kevin Dawe to consider the sonic impact of ecotourism in Iceland. For this study, I have conducted ethnographic research of these societies in Iceland. The rise of ecotourism in Iceland corresponds to the increased calls for preservation of rímur melodies, intoning practices, and traditional Icelandic music, as marks of local Icelandic identity.

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