Viktor Wilhelmsen

Gitarain Juoigat – To joik with the guitar: The rhythms in northern Sámi joik seen from a multidimensional perspective

NTNU, Department of music

This project explores the harmonic perspective of rhythm, as developed by percussionist Efrain Toro, and how it can be applied to better understand the rhythms in northern Sámi joik. The music institutions today usually teach rhythm from a linear perspective, which is the tradition of western classical music. One event happens after the last, which leads to another on a monodimensional grid. The tradition of linear thought in general is the tradition of western philosophy and science. One step leads to another, and a response to a step must be elicited before another is taken. The harmonic perspective of rhythm, however, suggests that much of the rhythms in traditional music worldwide can be experienced in a multidimensional and poly-metric way. I hope that this project will shed light on new ways of creating Sámi music that is rhythmically rooted in joik and not western/European music. 


Due to the assimilation policy led by the Norwegian government, I grew up aware of my Sámi roots, but detached from them. Throughout this project, my search for a Sámi identity plays a significant role, and I accept that it will influence the process in many ways.


I aim to develop a method for understanding rhythm in joik as something non-linear, multi-dimensional, and to explore how this coincides with other aspects of Sámi culture.

 Key research questions:

  • Can I create a basis for understanding northern Sámi joik rhythms by using the harmonic perspective of rhythm?
  • Using this basis, can new ways of playing guitar, composing, and improvising be created?
  • How does the multidimensional or non-linear way of thinking and being relate to other aspects of Sámi culture?


Viktor Wilhelmsen is an artistic research fellow and associate professor at the department of music at NTNU in Trondheim. He has been active in the jazz, rock, blues, and folk scene in Norway the last 18 years and has released three albums as a solo artist since 2015. The album “Knip igjen øyan” was nominated for the Norwegian grammy in 2019. His experience as a sideman and bandmember is extensive, working with younger singer-songwriters like Mathias Angelhus, the trio Varpet,  yoiker Frode Fjellheim, former artistic research fellow Mattis Kleppen, jazz-rock drummer Stian Lundberg and many others. He completed his master's at the performing jazz program at NTNU in 2021, focusing on the northern Sámi joik tradition, and explored the possibilities for performing joik on the guitar.

Currently he is in demand as a guitar player who contributes with his own, rhythmically focused style, pulling inspiration from west-African guitar traditions, American rural blues, and Sámi joik.

Since he completed his bachelor's degree in jazz back in 2010, he has worked with a wide range of musicians and styles. Starting out as a burning blues rocker, he gradually moved on to jazz-rock, and then into americana, focusing on lyrics and songwriting for a few years, before diving into the world of traditional music.