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Listen to the Hauntingly Beautiful Sounds of Icelandic Cave Singing

A thousand years ago, Gaelic monks sang and chanted inside Iceland’s vast series of caves. Recently, a group of folk singers made the trek inside one of these caves to test out the acoustics. Here’s what it sounded like.

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The cave used by these singers is called Hítardalur, and it’s one of several caves that were used by the monks around the 9th Century AD. According to the creator of the video, Sigurboði Grétarsson, it took some climbing to reach the cave entrance, and its opening was quite hidden.

These singers are engaging in a form of throat singing (also known as overtone singing) familiar to other regions, including the Inuit of North America and the Tuvan throat singers of Mongolia.

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H/t Digg Video!


Contact the author at george@io9.com and @dvorsky. Top video by Sigurboði Grétarsson/YouTub

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DISCUSSION

I think this is the cave known as Songhellir which is one of those that is linked to the legends of the troll Hit and the half-man half troll/giant Bárðr which are recorded in the Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss. The first part of the story takes place in the spectacular Snæfellsness peninsula to the West of this cave which is just one of the most astonishing places on Earth (and where Jules Verne started ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’.

Unlike almost all Icelandic sagas, Bárðr didn’t die at the end, instead after the usual family feuds, he left the world of men and went up on to the huge volcano of Snæfells at the end of the peninsula and vanished into the Snæfellsjökull glacier. He was subsequently named Bárðr Snæfellsáss and treated as a guardian spirit to be called on in times of peril (of which there are many in Western Iceland. Today, there’s a huge statue of him near the small village of Arnarstapi at the foot of the mountain, and on a good day, you might even see the two horns at the very top of the volcano.