Annbjørg Lien (born 15 October 1971 in Ålesund and raised in Mauseidvåg, Norway) is a Norwegian musician, playing the hardingfele (Hardanger fiddle), violin, and nyckelharpa.
She first came to national prominence in 1986. Shortly afterwards got a recording deal with the Heilo label and released her first album on that label in 1988. She has received numerous awards, both in Norway and the Nordic countries, including Gammleng Prize in classical folk music in 2004 and Hilmar Prize in 2006.
In Agora Kizomba we interviewed Annbjørg Lien She’s going to tell us her vision about Afro-Latin rhythms.
Hello. It is great to have you with us, please, tell us a little bit about yourself. Your background, education etc?
Hi, great to be invited! My name is Annbjørg Lien – a musician from Norway. My main instrument is the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, in addition to regular fiddle, the keyed fiddle (The Swedish nykkelharpa) and vocal. I started to play the fiddle when I was 5 years old, both folk music style and classical. My education in this matter is private, based on oral transmission from masters that I admired. It was of great value to me to get the chance to learn this way, and not only read about them in a book. I have an education as an Interior architect and furniture designer, and in addition, this November I will deliver my thesis (PhD) on how to compose music based on characteristics in traditional Hardanger fiddle music.
How would you define your musical evolution since you published your first album, titled “Eg Er Liten Eg, Men Eg Vågar Meg”, in 1983 until now?
My albums are quite different from each other. I see each of them first and foremost as a research in my soul in the moment they are made. As exploring music is an endless activity, I always look forward making a new album, that operates as a possibility for more focus on research than when on tour playing concerts. Though, a tour is often possible and done because a new CD is made.
I don’t really see a clear evolution from my early records and up until today, as all of them are testing out relatively different ideas, context and landscapes. They all have their own story in their own time and space.
You have received several awards during your musical career, is there one that is more special for you for some reason?
I`m very grateful and humble for all the support and positive responses on my work throughout the years. Though, one that ment a lot to me, was when I got a Hardanger fiddle and a stipendium in the purpose to study with the Hardanger fiddle master Hauk Buen from Telemark for longer periods.
What are your future plans?
Deliver my thesis this year. Continue writing music, making CD`s and have concerts. One thing is to dive into a personal or even private musical world, but maybe the strongest experience is to get the chance to communicate live with an audience, which are moments of great value to me.
What do you think about folk music being mixed with other styles such as pop or jazz?
I don’t see any reason for limiting creative work in music, as long as the work has a meaning to someone. To mix genres is done in many decades, because there are more similarities than differences in many of the musical genres. It is more about layers of musicians and souls with the same interest, background, playing ideals and personalities, than borders made around musical genres.
I though, think that to revisit traditional solo performance is important, to be reminded of all the characteristic details in one’s instrument, and for them to be able to shine
You have collaborated with great artists. What other artists would you like to work with?
These meetings happen for a reason and also when the time is right. There are so many great artists out there so time will show.
AgoraKizomba magazine is about Afro-Latin rhythms, have you ever seen kizomba dance? What do you think about this kind of music and dance?
I don’t think I have, so I am now looking forward to both see and hear the style on the enclosed videos. Thank you!
Finally, I am sending you some links to Afro-Latin music and dance videos, can you tell us about your impressions?
A lovely song and dance. My first impression is that the lyrics seems important, as the arrangements are quite open giving the words space and also emphasized in the mix. The song is to me perceived as a modern and catchy pop song, using popular musics elements. Though, when looking at the dance, the Afro-Latin roots seems more presence, and in this way, the dance seems older to me than the music that is heard. The couple meet each other beautifully in an intimate common energy field. The fine African approach can be heard in the background vocals.
The next video seems first and foremost to emphasize the rhythm and its suggestive power, by repeating smaller musical details (as a contrast to the previous video that uses a more regular form of a pop song consisting of verses and a cathy chorus), and rather emphazes the trance that a repetitive rhythm can contribute with. Even though both the music and the video has a quite modern approach, both expressions seems stronger related to tradition than the prevous song.
Such longer rhythmic lines with less emphasis on catchy melodies, and rather smaller repetetive motives that changes, reminds me of the Hardanger fiddle music from Norway.
They are both great music and dance – love them both! Thank you for inviting
me into the energy from this side of the world!
All the best,
Tusen takk, Annbjørg