Viking Songs: What Did The Vikings Sing?

Viking Songs

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on Viking songs! In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the musical world of the Vikings and explore the different types of songs they sang. From epic war songs to joyful wedding songs, music was an integral part of Viking culture and played a significant role in their daily lives. So, let’s explore the fascinating world of Viking music and discover the stories behind popular viking songs, viking war songs, viking battle songs, viking wedding songs, traditional viking songs, and old viking songs. Please, check our online music magazine to learn more about the music industry.

The Importance of Music in Viking Culture

The Vikings were known for their love of music, which played a significant role in their daily lives. Music was used for various purposes, such as storytelling, religious rituals, and entertainment. It was an integral part of their culture and traditions, and it helped to shape their identity as a society.

Music was an essential component of Viking rituals and ceremonies. It was used to invoke the gods and to celebrate important events such as weddings, funerals, and seasonal festivals. The use of music in religious ceremonies helped to create a sense of community and collective identity among the Viking people.

In addition to religious ceremonies, music was also used for entertainment and social gatherings. The Vikings enjoyed singing and dancing, and they often held parties and feasts where music was a central component. The use of music in social gatherings helped to strengthen social bonds and promote unity among the members of the Viking society.

Viking music was also used to tell stories and convey historical events. Bards and skalds were highly respected members of Viking society, and their role was to preserve the history and traditions of the Vikings through music and storytelling. They would recite epic poems and sing songs that told the tales of heroic deeds and battles.

The Role of Music in Viking Warfare

Music played an essential role in Viking warfare, particularly in the form of war songs and battle chants. The Vikings believed that music could inspire and motivate warriors, and it was used to boost morale and intimidate enemies.

War songs were typically performed before battles to psych up the warriors and prepare them for the upcoming conflict. These songs often depicted tales of valor and conquest, and they helped to create a sense of camaraderie among the Viking warriors.

Battle chants, on the other hand, were performed during battles to synchronize movements and coordinate attacks. The rhythm and tempo of these chants helped to keep the warriors in time with each other and maintain their focus during chaotic battles.

The Legacy of Viking Music

The legacy of Viking music can still be felt today, particularly in the genres of folk and heavy metal music. Many contemporary artists have drawn inspiration from Viking music, and elements of Viking music can still be heard in modern compositions.

The enduring popularity of Viking music is a testament to its enduring significance in the history and culture of the Vikings. Whether it was used for religious ceremonies, social gatherings, or warfare, music played a central role in the lives of the Viking people.

Viking War Songs: Tales of Valor and Conquest

The Vikings were a fierce and warlike people, and this was reflected in their music. Viking war songs were an integral part of their culture, used to motivate and inspire warriors in battle. The lyrics of these songs were often filled with tales of valor, conquest, and bravery, meant to evoke a sense of pride and courage in the hearts of Viking warriors.

The rhythm and tempo of Viking war songs were designed to synchronize with the movements of warriors on the battlefield. The songs were often performed in unison, with all the warriors chanting and singing together. This created a powerful and intimidating effect, both on the Vikings themselves and their enemies.

The lyrics of Viking war songs were also meant to intimidate enemies. They often contained vivid descriptions of the horrors that awaited those who opposed the Vikings in battle. This was a psychological tactic used by the Vikings to weaken the resolve of their enemies and make them more vulnerable to attack.

Viking War Songs: Themes and Lyrics
The Shield Song A song about the making of shields and the protection they offer
The Song of Atli A song about the battle between Atli and the Huns
The Song of Ragnar’s Death A song about the death of the legendary Viking warrior, Ragnar Lothbrok

These are just a few examples of the many Viking war songs that have been discovered by historians. They provide a glimpse into the mindset and values of the Vikings, as well as their fighting techniques and tactics.

It is believed that Viking war songs played a significant role in the outcome of battles. The songs helped to rally and motivate Viking warriors, giving them the courage and strength to fight on even in the face of overwhelming odds. They were an important part of Viking culture and continue to be celebrated and studied to this day.

Popular Viking Songs: Songs that Transcended Generations

The Vikings had a rich musical tradition, and many of their songs have survived to this day. Some of the most popular Viking songs were passed down through generations, becoming cherished pieces of cultural heritage.

These songs were often about everyday life, including love, family, and nature. They were sung at gatherings, celebrations, and festivals, and were an important part of social and cultural life.

Examples of Popular Viking Songs

Song Description
Drømte mig en drøm i nat A love song about a man dreaming of his beloved.
Grimur á Miðalnesi A song about a Viking warrior’s adventures.
Þat mælti mín móðir A lullaby in which a mother sings to her child about the dangers of the outside world.

These songs have endured through the ages, and their melodies and lyrics have been studied and analyzed by scholars and musicians alike.

Many modern artists have drawn inspiration from Viking songs, incorporating elements of their music into their own compositions. The haunting and powerful melodies of Viking songs continue to resonate with audiences today, showing the enduring impact of this ancient musical tradition.

  • Overall, popular Viking songs were an integral part of their culture and everyday life, showcasing the importance of music in Viking society.
  • The enduring popularity of these songs highlights their significance and influence on modern music.

Viking Battle Songs: Rhythms of Conflict

Viking battle songs were an integral part of Viking warfare as they served as a morale booster, helped synchronize movements, and instilled fear in their enemies. The lyrics were often highly descriptive, full of vivid imagery, and showcased the Viking’s thirst for conquest and glory.

The rhythm, tempo, and instrumentation of these songs were specially designed to keep the warriors moving in unison. The beat of a drum or the strum of a lyre signaled the start of an attack, while a sudden pause or change in tempo communicated the need to retreat or regroup.

Viking battle songs were also used as psychological warfare to intimidate their enemies. The songs often contained threats and warnings of what was to come, and the sound of a thousand Vikings chanting in unison was enough to strike fear in the hearts of their foes.

Song Title Description
The Shield Wall A song about the unbreakable formation of the Viking shield wall that protected them in battle.
Blood Eagle A gruesome song about the Viking’s ritualistic method of human sacrifice that involved cutting the back of their enemy and breaking their ribs to resemble a spread eagle.
The Last Battle A song about the Vikings’ belief that dying in battle was the only way to enter Valhalla, the warrior’s afterlife.

These songs not only served a practical purpose in battle but also represented the Viking culture’s values and beliefs. Their emphasis on bravery, strength, and honor in battle reflected their society’s warrior-based lifestyle.

Overall, Viking battle songs were more than just music. They were an essential part of Viking warfare, representing their traditions, beliefs, and values.

Viking Wedding Songs: Celebrating Love and Unity

Viking weddings were an elaborate affair, with many rituals and ceremonies honoring the union of two people and their families. One of the essential elements of these weddings was music, with Viking wedding songs playing a significant role in the celebrations. These songs celebrated love, unity, and the joining of two families and were sung by both the couple and their guests.

The lyrics of Viking wedding songs often praised the bride’s and groom’s virtues and wished them a long and happy life together. The songs also expressed gratitude to the gods for allowing the marriage to happen and bringing the families together. In some cases, the songs included stories of mythical Viking couples whose love had stood the test of time.

Example of a Viking Wedding Song Translation
Óttar svarti,
oddviti mér nýtir,
hann réð hjǫrvi,
en ek hjǫrva skírri,
við Hildar dóttur
hann mun hǫggva frá.
Ottar the black,
My new chief,
He wields the sword,
But I’m purer than swords,
With Hild’s daughter,
He will keep me from harm.

The music of Viking wedding songs was often played on instruments such as the lyre, a small harp-like instrument, and the flute. These were perfect for creating a romantic and joyful atmosphere, which was the aim of Viking wedding songs. The tempo was usually lively and energetic, encouraging guests to dance and celebrate.

Even today, the influence of Viking wedding songs can be seen in Scandinavian folk music, which incorporates many elements of traditional Viking music. Viking wedding songs have stood the test of time, just like the couples they celebrated, and continue to be celebrated and cherished by music lovers worldwide.

Traditional Viking Songs: Preserving Cultural Heritage

Traditional Viking songs were an integral part of preserving the cultural heritage of the Vikings. Passed down through generations, these songs offered a glimpse into the beliefs, traditions, and daily lives of the Viking people.

Many of these songs were performed during religious ceremonies, such as sacrifices or burials. They were also used during seasonal celebrations, such as the winter solstice or the summer solstice.

One of the most famous traditional Viking songs is the “Voluspa,” which tells the story of creation and the end of the world, as foretold by a seeress. Other traditional Viking songs focused on themes of love, nature, and mythology.

Traditional Viking Songs Themes
Voluspa Creation, end of the world
Vafþrúðnismál Mythology, gods
Hávamál Wisdom, ethics

Despite the passage of time and the loss of many original Viking songs, these traditional songs continue to be performed today. They not only serve as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage of the Vikings but also offer insights into their beliefs and way of life.

Old Viking Songs: Echoes from the Past

In this section, we will explore the fascinating world of old Viking songs that have been discovered through various means. These songs offer a glimpse into the culture, traditions, and beliefs of the Vikings, and provide valuable insights into their way of life. Let’s take a closer look at some of the old Viking songs that have been unearthed.

“The Song of Rig”

One of the most important and significant Viking songs is “The Song of Rig.” This song explores the story of how different social classes evolved among the Vikings. It tells the tale of Rig, a god who visits three households, imparting his wisdom and knowledge to each. The song details the different stages of life and the roles individuals played in Viking society.

Verse Translation
Lofty halls for the kings;
huts for the thralls, hunger and cold.
The third estate at the edge of the fields;
the farmers, free, in their festive halls.

The Song of Rig is a fascinating example of the storytelling tradition of the Vikings. It provides a unique insight into their social hierarchy and the roles individuals played in society.

The “Rök Stone” Inscription

The Rök Stone is a historical artifact that contains one of the longest Viking Age runic inscriptions. The inscription on the stone is a poem that tells the story of a warrior who fought bravely and died in battle. The poem also references numerous gods and mythological creatures, providing insights into Viking beliefs and legends.

The Rök Stone inscription is a remarkable example of the use of runes in the Viking Age. It showcases the poetic and artistic talent of the Vikings and provides valuable information about their culture and mythology.

The “Hávamál”

The “Hávamál” is a collection of ancient Viking poems that offer advice on how to live a good life. The poems cover a range of topics, from respecting and loving your parents to avoiding the company of fools. The Hávamál is considered one of the most important surviving works of literature from the Viking Age.

  1. Do not praise day until evening has come;
  2. do not praise a woman until she is burnt;
  3. do not praise a sword until it is tried;
  4. do not praise a maiden until she is married;

The Hávamál showcases the wisdom and philosophy of the Vikings. It provides valuable insights into their way of life and the values they held dear.

These are just a few examples of the old Viking songs that have been discovered. They offer a unique glimpse into the culture, beliefs, and traditions of the Vikings, and showcase their artistic and storytelling talents. These songs are an invaluable part of our heritage and help us to understand the history of this remarkable people.

The Melodies of Viking Songs: Instruments and Musical Styles

Viking songs were not just about the lyrics; they were also known for their unique musical style. Different types of instruments were used to create these melodies. Let’s take a closer look at the instruments and musical styles that were prominent in Viking songs.

Vocal Techniques

Viking songs were mostly sung in a monophonic style, with one melody line and no harmonization. The style of singing was often described as “chanted” or “recited,” with a distinct emphasis on the pronunciation of each word. In some cases, the singers would use a technique called “throat-singing,” which involves producing multiple tones simultaneously.


The Vikings used a variety of instruments to accompany their songs. Some of the most common instruments used were:

Instrument Description
Lyre A stringed instrument that was plucked with a plectrum
Drum A percussion instrument made from animal skins, often played with a stick
Flute A wind instrument made from bone or wood, played by blowing across a hole

Musical Structure

Viking songs were usually composed using a simple melody structure. They often used a pentatonic scale, which consists of five notes per octave, and were based on a series of repeating musical phrases. The rhythm of Viking songs was often described as “driving” or “energetic,” with a strong beat that was well-suited for accompanying battle cries or rowing chants.

Modern Interpretations

Despite the fact that it has been centuries since Viking songs were first performed, their influence can still be heard in modern music. Many contemporary musicians have been inspired by Viking melodies and instrumentation, incorporating elements of these ancient tunes into their own compositions.

  • The Norwegian black metal band Enslaved has used traditional Viking instruments, such as the goat horn, in their music.
  • The Danish folk group Valravn has incorporated elements of Viking music into their own unique sound.

The melodies of Viking songs continue to inspire musicians around the world, ensuring that this ancient musical tradition lives on to this day.

The Legacy of Viking Songs: Influence on Modern Music

Viking songs have left an indelible mark on modern music, influencing artists across a range of genres. From metal bands to folk singers, the echoes of Viking music can still be heard in contemporary compositions. Let’s explore the lasting legacy of Viking songs on modern music.

Influence on Heavy Metal

Heavy metal is one genre that has drawn much inspiration from Viking songs. Bands such as Amon Amarth, Bathory, and Enslaved have incorporated Viking themes and imagery into their music, creating a subgenre known as Viking metal. The thunderous rhythms, aggressive vocals, and epic storytelling of Viking songs are a perfect fit for heavy metal, and many of these bands have gained a loyal following around the world.

Band Name Album Title Year of Release
Amon Amarth The Crusher 2001
Bathory Under the Sign of the Black Mark 1987
Enslaved Vikingligr Veldi 1994

Influence on Folk Music

Folk music is another genre that has been influenced by Viking songs. Bands such as Wardruna and Garmarna have incorporated traditional Viking instruments and melodies into their music, creating a unique fusion of ancient and modern sounds. The haunting vocals and intricate instrumentation of Viking songs are a perfect fit for folk music, and many of these bands have gained critical acclaim for their innovative approach.

  • Wardruna’s album “Runaljod – Gap Var Ginnunga” was inspired by ancient Nordic poetry and traditional instruments such as the goat horn and mouth harp.
  • Garmarna’s album “Vedergällningen” features traditional Swedish folk songs with a modern twist, incorporating electronic beats and samples.

Influence on Popular Culture

Viking songs have also had an impact on popular culture, appearing in movies, TV shows, video games, and even commercials. The epic and adventurous nature of Viking songs makes them ideal for media that seeks to evoke a sense of heroism and grandeur. From the “Skyrim” video game soundtrack to the theme song of the TV show “The Vikings,” Viking songs have become a cultural touchstone that transcends music.

In conclusion, Viking songs have had a lasting impact on modern music, inspiring artists across a range of genres and becoming an enduring cultural legacy. From heavy metal to folk music, and from movies to video games, the influence of Viking songs can still be felt today.


Through their songs, the Vikings left behind a rich cultural legacy that continues to captivate and inspire people today. From the epic war songs that spoke of bravery and conquest to the traditional songs that preserved their history and traditions, Viking music was a powerful force in their society.

Music was an essential part of Viking life, used for entertainment, storytelling, and religious rituals. It played a significant role in boosting morale during battles and celebrating the joys of life, such as weddings.

Today, the influence of Viking music can still be heard in modern compositions, from metal bands to film music. The Viking legacy lives on in the melodies of their songs and the stories they tell, reminding us of the enduring power of music and its ability to transcend time and space.

The Continuing Fascination with Viking Music

Even after so many centuries, Viking music continues to fascinate people across the world. Its themes of honor, courage, and love resonate with audiences today, and its unique blend of melody and rhythm is still being studied and explored by musicians and scholars alike.

The legacy of Viking songs is a testament to the enduring power of culture and the importance of preserving our cultural heritage for future generations. As we continue to uncover new insights into Viking music, we are reminded of the richness and diversity of human creativity and the profound impact it can have on our lives.


What did the Vikings sing about?

The Vikings sang about a variety of topics, including war, battles, weddings, and traditional stories. Their songs reflected their culture, values, and history, providing insights into their daily lives and beliefs.

How important was music in Viking culture?

Music held great importance in Viking culture. It was used for storytelling, religious rituals, and entertainment. Music was deeply intertwined with their traditions and beliefs, and played a significant role in the daily lives of the Vikings.

What were Viking war songs about?

Viking war songs depicted tales of valor, conquest, and bravery in battle. They were sung to motivate and inspire Viking warriors, boosting their morale and contributing to the outcome of battles.

What were some popular Viking songs?

There were many popular Viking songs that were loved and passed down through generations. These songs resonated with the Viking society, and their melodies, lyrics, and themes captured the essence of Viking culture.

How did Viking battle songs differ from other Viking songs?

Viking battle songs were specifically performed during battles or preparations for battles. They had rhythmic and intense melodies, and were used to boost morale, intimidate enemies, and synchronize movements on the battlefield.

What role did songs play in Viking weddings?

Viking wedding songs were an integral part of marriage ceremonies. They celebrated love, unity, and the joining of families. These songs were a way of expressing joy and creating a festive atmosphere during wedding festivities.

How did traditional Viking songs preserve cultural heritage?

Traditional Viking songs were passed down through generations, serving as a way to preserve their cultural heritage. These songs told stories, conveyed important historical and mythological information, and kept the history and traditions of the Vikings alive.

Can we decipher and interpret old Viking songs?

Efforts have been made to decipher and interpret old Viking songs through archaeological findings and historical records. While the exact meanings of some songs may still be debated, these ancient songs provide valuable insights into the lives and beliefs of the Vikings.

What instruments were used in Viking songs?

Viking songs were performed using various musical instruments, including lyres, flutes, and drums. These instruments contributed to the melodic structures and vocal techniques used in Viking music, adding depth and richness to their songs.

How have Viking songs influenced modern music?

Viking songs have had a lasting influence on modern music. Elements of Viking music can be heard in various genres, and many artists have drawn inspiration from Viking songs in their compositions. The legacy of Viking music continues to resonate in popular culture today.