Vǫluspá from the Poetic Edda

"Dear audience! There is no unbroken tradition of performing Eddic Poems, so I have turned to epic singing traditions from around the world when searching for ways of performing them. Last performance we had a full house in the Main Auditorium at the British Museum, hosted by the Crick Crack Club. But it all started in 2014 with a Masters at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. There I created a series of concerts with the Seer's Prophecy in Old Norse, inspired by the Manas tradition from Kirgiztan, Pandvani singing from India and Pansori from Korea. After the Masters the project continued, one of the highlights being the collaboration with the runo singer Outi Pulkkinen in Finland. Now I'm creating a performance of Voluspá in English.

This is a video from the Bifrost Festival 2020: the latest version of Voluspa Pandvani. When the video is playing, click the bottom right corner for full screen.

If you scroll further down you find a presentation of my Masters 2014-2017, with videos of singers I've copied and full lenght videos of my own work."

Vǫluspá - The Seer's Prophecy Exam performances at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, 22 May 2017. 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. With that in mind I have explored performance of this epic material and its metres.

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