The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Music of Denmark

Denmark is a Nordic country that has long been a center of cultural innovation. Its capital, Copenhagen, and its multiple outlying islands have a wide range of folk traditions, while an extensive recording industry has produced pop stars and a host of performers from a multitude of genres.

Danish music has long been dominated by a fiddle and accordion duo, much like its northern neighbors in Scandinavia. An important difference, however, is that Danish fiddlers almost always play in groups, and so there is no tradition of virtuoso fiddle players capable of solo performance; Danish bands also tend to feature the guitar more prominently than the other Nordic countries, especially in recent years.

Fiddle and accordion duos play generally simple rhythmic dance music. The oldest variety is called pols , and it is now mostly found on Fanø and includes even smaller variety likes sønderhoning from Sønderho . Sønderho has produced a family of widely-respected musicians in Søren Lassen Brinch and his descendents. Another dance from Fanø is called fanik , while Danish dance music included its own versions of polka, waltz, schottisch, trekanter , firtur , tretur and rheinlænder , displaying its multicultural influences from Germany, Poland, Austria, Bohemia, Sweden, England and Norway.

The first Danish popular songs were printed ballads called skillingstryk , which grew popular in the 16th century. In the 1960s and 1970s, a wave of roots revivals swept across Europe and soon mixed with American rock 'n' roll, blues and jazz to make new forms of popular music. Denmark remained largely unaffected by this trend, which hit all of its neighbors, including Finland, Sweden, Norway and Germany. Instead, Denmark hosted numerous music festivals celebrating Scottish, Irish and American folk musicians. Danish folk music was still alive, though, recorded by folklorists like Thorkild Knudsen . Knudsen's most important find was Himmerland fiddler Evald Thomsen . The oldest knowen Danish folk melody is entitled Drømte mig en drøm (lit. "Dreamt a dream"), and dates from the 14th century.

The Danish new folk scene didn't become mainstream until the 1990s. The biggest catalyst for this change was the founding of several organizations to promote folk music, the most important of which was the Danish Folk Council . Performers of regional styles include Fanø's Jæ' Sweevers and East Jutland 's Mølposen and Rasmus. Other influential musicians who play a multitude of styles include fiddler Michael Sommer , Benny Andersen , Erik Grip , Phønix , Baltinget , Danish Dia Delight , Carl Erik Lundgaard , Povl Dissing and perhaps the biggest star of the Danish roots revival, Morten Alfred Høirup.

The Danish bands that have had the most impact outside of Denmark itself, are pop group Aqua, who had a number of hits around Europe including "Barbie Girl" and "Doctor Jones". Another band popular outside of Denmark are rock and rollers D-A-D (formerly Disneyland After Dark) who had a hit with "Sleeping My Day Away" in the early 1990s.

Denmark participates in the annual Eurovision song contest, and holds its own Danish Melodi Grand Prix competition to select the song that will represent Denmark in the Eurovision contest. Denmark has won the Eurovision song contest twice: first with Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann's Dansevisenin 1963, and more recently with Brødrene Olsen's (Olsen Brothers) "Fly On The Wings Of Love" (from the Danish Smuk Som Et Stjerneskud, literally "Beautiful as a shooting star") in 2000.

Perhaps the most popular and longest-standing Danish musicians are Kim Larsen and Shu-Bi-Dua.

See also: Music of the Faroe Islands, Music of Greenland


  • Cronshaw, Andrew. "A New Pulse for the Pols". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 58-63. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
Last updated: 05-02-2005 17:47:28
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55