Vǫluspá For three years Kersti Ståbi has been working with Eddic Poems at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

Vǫluspá from the Poetic Edda

"Dear audience! There is no unbroken tradition of performing Eddic Poems, and I have turned to epic singing traditions from around the world when searching for ways of performing them. Here you find the concept of a First Listener, a representative of the audience on stage.

An English version of my Masters thesis will be available here in late november. Until then you can download the Swedish one and give Google Translate a good challange, or make do with the abstract further down and browse the videos below it. But first, do enjoy the Korean and Indian-inspired Seer's Prophecy from the exams concert on 22 May 2017..."

Vǫluspá - The Seer's Prophecy Click the square in the bottom right corner of the videos to show them in full screen. Vǫluspá Pansori (in golden dress) shows the full Seer's Prophecy, while Vǫluspá Pandvani (with drum and accordion) is an excerpt.


Kersti Ståbi - Performing poems from the Poetic Edda

I am an oral storyteller and folk singer. In my Masters project at KMH I have made a series of concerts performing the poem Vǫluspá from the Poetic Edda in its original Old Norse. Building on the musical elements in the Eddic poems, I’ve been searching the borderlands between speech and singing, using melodic material in the modern Swedish and Norwegian languages. As a method I have imitated singers in different living epic singing traditions from around the world, basing the creative process on mimicry and improvisation. This was a fast route to performances of great diversity: the Manas singer from Kyrgyzstan gradually enters a trancelike state, while Pansori from Korea made me think "unmelodic folk opera" and the Indian Pandvani is all-or-nothing storytelling with music serving as an engine. One specific perspective I have researched is the concept of a ”First Listener” - a representative of the audience on stage that can, but doesn’t necessarily have to, contribute musically. Traditionally the First Listener in Pandvani is very active; singing, shouting and challenging the teller, while the Pansori First Listener is a supporting commenting percussionist. As a storyteller and lead singer I found the presence of a First Listener highly fruitful in the process leading up to the performances. As a stage concept it offers forceful dynamics between the singer, the listeners and the poem.
The poems of the Poetic Edda were created and performed in an oral tradition, but survived to modern times only via written text. I regard myself a performer formed in a literate culture but in an oral music tradition. With that in mind I have explored performance of this epic material and its metres. Translation has become a keyword with many facets.

Performing Vǫluspá from the Poetic Edda

-as folk singer and oral storyteller

Open Masters thesis in Swedish

Videos that inspired the project:

Nazarkul Seidahmanov (2013)

Manas, tradition from Kyrgyzstan

Jen Shyu (Shyu, 2013)

Pansori, tradition from Korea

Ritu Verma (Verma, 2013)

Pandvani, tradition from India

Videos from stage and rehearsal:

Vǫluspá Pansori (Ståbi, 2016d)

inspired by Korean epic singing

Vǫluspá Pandvani (Ståbi, 2016e)

inspired by Indian tradition

Vǫluspá Manas (Ståbi, 2016c)

inspired by singing from Kyrgyzstan

Vǫluspá Folding Ruler (Ståbi 2016f)

Pattern: foot hand foot foot hand

Fornyrdislag Norm (Ståbi, 2016a)

Audio only