Music from the Ancient World: Wardruna

This “Music from the Ancient World” post is bittersweet. Erin and I had the chance to go see this band (probably one of Erin’s all-time favorites) but the travel costs were just too expensive. They are called Wardruna. Here is a video from the very concert in Bergen Norway that we were trying to go to.

While they do play ancient instruments, I wouldn’t say that their music is actually based on ancient music. They don’t get their lyrics from celtic curse tablets like the last band we wrote about, and they don’t get their melodies from real ancient sources like the next artist we plan to write about. Rather I would say that their music is a modern musical interpretation of the Futhark, or the runes. Each song is about a single rune and explores the secret meaning behind each one. For example, the song posted above is called Bjarken which mean Birch. The rhythm for the song is produced by literally banging birch branches together. It’s a creative idea and the result is a very relaxing, beautiful, and meditative sound.

We know that the runic alphabet had a magical, secret, and divinatory purpose to the norse people beyond its practical use as a writing system. But there’s no evidence that the “magical meanings” for the runes that you can find online are anything but a modern invention. There aren’t many ancient, contemporary sources that talk about what the norse people thought the magic behind the runes was supposed to be.

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