Celebrating the National Anthem of Greenland - Exploring its Roots in Traditional Music
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Celebrating the National Anthem of Greenland – Exploring its Roots in Traditional Music



The culture of Greenland has been shaped by centuries of Inuit and Danish influence, resulting in a unique blend of traditional music, storytelling, visual arts, and performance.

Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. The culture of Greenland has been shaped by centuries of Inuit and Danish influence, resulting in a unique blend of traditional music, storytelling, visual arts, and performance. At the heart of it all stands the national anthem “Nunarput utoqqarsuanngoravit” (Our Country Has Prospered). This song symbolizes peace and unity among Greenlanders while also celebrating their cultural heritage. It serves as a reminder that despite its small size, Greenland’s culture remains strong and vibrant to this day.

Celebrating the National Anthem of Greenland - Exploring its Roots in Traditional Music

Historical Background

The culture of Greenland has been shaped by its unique environment and the people who have inhabited it. The Inuit, an indigenous population that settled in Greenland around 4, 500 years ago, brought with them their own language and traditions. These influences can still be seen today in Greenland’s traditional music, storytelling, and performance arts.

The Viking settlement of Iceland in the mid-ninth century also left an indelible mark on the culture of Greenland. The Vikings brought with them their own customs and beliefs which blended with those already present to create a distinct cultural identity for the island nation. Christianity was introduced to Greenland during this time as well, further contributing to its rich spiritual heritage.

Throughout its history, Denmark has played a major role in shaping modern-day Greenlandic culture through colonization efforts beginning in 1721 when Denmark officially claimed sovereignty over the landmass now known as “Greenland”. This period saw massive changes take place including shifts in language usage from Norse (Old Norse) to Kalaallisut (West Greenlandish), increased influence from Danish settlers on local tradition and art forms such as theater performances featuring plays written by Danish playwrights which were adapted into Kalaallisut dialects for use within the local communities they served. Additionally, during this period, Danish educators made strong efforts towards popularizing education amongst young children living across all areas of Greenland leading eventually to a literacy rate among adults exceeding 95%.


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Traditional Music

Traditional Music of Greenland is a unique blend of sounds and instruments from both the Inuit and Danish influences. There are two main genres within traditional music: drum dancing, also known as Tapaasat, and vocal singing. Drum dancing is an ancient form of storytelling that uses percussion to create a powerful rhythm that accompanies stories about past events or legends. The drums used for this type of music can range in size from small hand-held drums to larger frame drums suspended over an open fire with a leather skin stretched across the top. Vocal singing has been passed down through generations since pre-colonial times and includes songs in Kalaallisut (West Greenlandic) and Inuit languages such as Uumajut (East Greenlandic). Traditional lyrics often convey messages of love, sorrow or unity.

Instruments traditionally used in Greenlandic folk music include flutes made out of bones or wood; wooden harps called qilaut, which feature ivory keys; stringed instruments like the lute-like tamburit; horns made from walrus tusks known as tuutsiktutit; accordions brought by Danish settlers during colonization efforts; various rattles such as jingle shells hung around musicians’ waists while they play their instruments; percussion instruments including frame drums called qayuq, single headed tom-tom drums called ublakit, clappers known as sikuittukkutit, shakers constructed out of animal hide filled with pebbles called qujavarit ; and finally hand crafted wooden sticks played like castanets know as alerquagait.

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Performing Arts

Traditional dance is an integral part of Greenlandic culture. It has been practiced for centuries as a way to celebrate special occasions, strengthen community ties and tell stories of the past. Traditional dances often involve singing and drumming in addition to intricate footwork. The most popular traditional dance is known as “Katajjaq” which involves two performers standing face-to-face making vocalizations that mimic each other in a competitive game.

Storytelling is another form of performing art used by many cultures around the world but especially prevalent in Greenlandic society where oral traditions have been passed down through generations since pre-colonial times. This type of performance relies heavily on memory, improvisation and audience engagement with storytellers often taking on various roles such as characters or narrators while acting out their tales. Popular Greenlandic stories include legends about mythical creatures, humorous anecdotes from everyday life, historical accounts or even cautionary tales meant to impart important lessons upon listeners.

Other performing arts are also commonplace throughout Greenland including plays written by local playwrights adapted into Kalaallisut dialects for use within local communities; puppet shows featuring handmade figures representing mythological characters; shadow theatres involving large puppets moved behind a screen with lit candles creating shadows across the surface; musical performances showcasing traditional instruments like accordions brought by Danish settlers during colonization efforts; visual art exhibitions displaying works made from natural materials found in the Arctic environment such as bone carvings, jewelry crafted using whale teeth ivory and tapestries woven from reindeer fur and seal skin among others .

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Contemporary Art

The contemporary art scene in Greenland has seen a huge surge in popularity over the past few decades. Modern music, particularly hip hop and rock, have become popular amongst young Greenlanders due to increased access to western media. Local artists use these genres as a platform for expression while incorporating traditional elements like drumming and storytelling into their work. This is evident in the success of groups like Sulillit who blend modern beats with samples from Inuit throat singing creating something entirely new and unique that resonates with younger generations.

The rise of new visual arts has also been on the rise in recent years with more local artists pushing boundaries by exploring themes such as identity, gender roles and environmental issues through painting, sculpture and photography. The works produced are often characterized by bright colors depicting scenes inspired by traditional culture or everyday life experiences within rural communities across Greenland . The emergence of this vibrant artistic movement is helping to break down barriers between cultures which can be seen through exhibitions featuring pieces created both locally and internationally where viewers gain insight into diverse perspectives from different backgrounds .


Greenland’s culture has evolved over the centuries and continues to grow and diversify today. Its unique blend of Inuit, Danish, Viking and Christian influences have resulted in an extraordinary cultural identity that is both distinct and vibrant. Traditional music, dance, storytelling and art forms are integral parts of Greenlandic culture which continue to be passed down through generations while modern genres such as hip hop also play a vital role in helping younger people connect with their heritage. The national anthem ‘Nunarput Utoqqarsuanngoravit’ is widely regarded as a source of pride for all Greenlanders due to its lyrics which convey messages about staying united during times of hardship while celebrating the land they call home. This symbolizes just how important culture is within this nation; it serves as a reminder that no matter what changes take place throughout history, the spirit of Greenland will always remain strong.

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