Rímur

12 08 2013

Rímur = a rhyme
It is an epic poem in the meters rímnahættir (14th century). They are grouped into 10 families based on whether 2 to 4 lines per stanza alliterate and the order of alliteration. The oldest known is a medieval manuscript called Ólafs ríma Haraldssonar and the most recent is Disney rímur by Þórarinn Eldjárn.

Rímur are narrative poems which generally tell stories of icelandic heroes and epic battles which have been passed down generations in iceland through word-of-mouth since the 14th century. Rímur were regarded as a performance art; a good rímur chanter would engage his listeners with his clever rhyming schemes and catchy melodies. Rímur were performed on winter nights when inhabitants sat occupied by their work (making clothing from wool, wreathing horsehairs into ropes, cutting tools from wood, etc.) For seven centuries, this was icelanders’ only branch of entertainment and it’s only recently that this tradition has dissolved.

Here you will see Steindór Andersen with Sigur Rós:

n. kvædi – verse or stanza
v. kveða – to sing a tune

Kvæda are ancient songs accompined by dance. They are related to old ballads from the Faroe Islands. Kvæði can have hundreds of stanzas plus a chorus sung between every verse. The dance is simple, 2 steps to the left and 1 to the right.

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