April 22: Rockheim

Guest post by Ted

Last weekend we headed to Rockheim, a music museum on the Trondheim waterfront dedicated to Norway’s rock history and thriving scene.  Scandinavia actually has a fairly rich rock history, with notable chart-toppers ABBA and A-ha amongst the most well known.  Within Norway there is a thriving indie-rock and electronic scene, with bands like Turbonegro, Motorpsycho, Kings of Convenience, and Röyksopp achieving some international success.  And of course Norway is the epicenter of black metal, which has become extremely trendy in hard rock circles globally in the last 10 years.

Metal is a huge category of music, with a menagerie of sub-genre prefixes such as doom, death, grind, thrash, power, groove, post, etc.  Each of these sub-genres are characterized by certain vocal styles, lyrical themes, guitar tones, and production techniques.  Black metal is a very particular sub-genre characterized by a buzzy, noisy blur of diminished guitar chords, rapid blast-beat drums, raspy vocals, face paint, unreadable band logos, and a juvenile libertarian/aristocratic political philosophy (sometimes with a good dose of nature worship),  all working together to create a nihlistic, “grim” atmosphere that emphasizes a perceived authenticity more than technical prowess.

The museum was organized by several floors, some with hands on activities such as remixing a popular song, learning dance moves, and karaoke.  Other floors had large thematic displays showing various musical instruments, and short video histories of folk and rock performers in Norway over the decades.

It was a fun visit, but by luck (good and bad) we happened to visit on a free day.  The downside of this was that attendance was high, and a good deal of the attendees were little kids who basically treated the place as a children’s’ museum, more interested in the technical parts of the interactive exhibits rather than the subject of the exhibits.  In other words, they just wanted to mash the buttons.  So that was a little overwhelming.  Christy and I hope to make it back during a weekday afternoon to have a bit more space and time to explore the exhibits and actually enjoy all the music and video that has been curated.

A  Halling dance lesson (click for video), a part of which is kicking a hat off of a stick, to impress would be suitors.  Here Anders gets scooped by an overly-zealous dad and kid.  Just another example of too many little kids this day.

Nora was much more interested in the face painting, which took way too long and had nothing to do with the museum theme.  Christy noted later that they really missed a golden opportunity to tap in to some of the iconic face paint themes in Norwegian rock history, such as Hank von Helvete from Turbonegro and Abbath from Immortal.

Hank von Helvete

Abbath of Immortal

Christy and Anders record their vocals at the remixing station.

Halling dance practice.

Laser disco

The black metal room, complete with fridge full of cheap beer (not shown).

Tour bus themed exhibit showing footage of some old Norwegian music festivals.

Play-along station.  Like Guitar Hero, but real.


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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.
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