Sami music

A Nordic Sami woman playing Lur horn in the evening. A wood cut made by Emma Edwall after nature in the mid-1800s.

In traditional Sami music songs (e.g. Kvad[1] and Leudd songs[2]) and joiks are important musical expressions. The Sami also use a variety of musical instruments, some unique to the Sami, some traditional Scandinavian, and some modern introductions.

Highly spiritual songs called joiks (North Sami: luohti; South Sami: vuolle) are the most characteristic song type. (The same word sometimes refers to lavlu or vuelie songs, though this is technically incorrect.) Joiks may have few or no lyrics, do not rhyme, and have no definite structure. They are typically about any subject of importance to the singer, and vary widely in content. In Northern areas each person often has their own joik, sometimes given to them at birth, which is seen as personal to and representative of them, like a name. Purely folk joiks have declined in popularity over the 20th century, due to the influence of pop radio and religious fundamentalism, especially Laestadianism. Nevertheless, joik performers of some fame include Angelit (former Angelin tytöt, Girls of Angeli), Wimme Saari and Nils-Aslak Valkeapää from Finnish Sápmi. Many modern singers are signed to DAT,[3] the premier record label in Sami music.

The most famous Sami singer is Mari Boine of Norway, who sings a type of minimalist folk-rock with joik roots. Some non-Sami artists, including RinneRadio, Xymox and Jan Garbarek, have used joik and other Sami styles in their music.

The Finnish folk metal band Sháman introduced what some call "yoik metal" in the late 1990s, drawing attention to Sámi music in the heavy metal scene. Their music incorporated Sámi elements such as yoik singing, Sami lyrics, and shamanic drum. The vocalist has also yoiked for fellow Finnish folk metal band Finntroll. Also Finnish black metal band Barathrum (On Eerie album's first track) and Swedish black metal band Arckanum have used joik parts in couple of their songs.

In January 2008, the Sami artist Ann Marie Anderson, singing "Ándagassii" qualified to the finals of Melodi Grand Prix 2008, (the Norwegian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2008), but she did not win. In Mars 2015 the Swedish sami artist Jon Henrik Fjallgren came second with his song "Jag ar fri" in the finals in the national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2015.

Musical instruments

Some sources have commented on a supposed lack of musical instruments among the Sami, with one 1885 work noting: "They cannot claim to possess a single instrument of their own, not even the most primitive."[4] Despite these beliefs, the Sami employ a variety of musical instruments, several unique to them. Among these instruments are the fadno, a reedpipe made from Angelica archangelica stalks, and the Sami drum. Late 18th century researchers also noted two bagpipes in Lapland:[5] the sak-pipe and the wal-pipe.[6]

Other Sami instruments of wider Scandinavian usage include the lur (a long horn trumpet),[7][8] and the harpu,[9] a zither similar to the Finnish kantele.[10] Willow flutes are often made from the bark of the quicken tree or mountain ash.[11]

Modern bands use a wide variety of instruments, especially the fiddle, concertina, and accordion.


See also


  1. The 12th song from Kalevala V, 395 – 402; Friis, J. A. (1871) "Lappisk mythologi, eventyr og folkesagn: eventyr og folkesagn"; Friis, J.A.
  2. "Leudd/ sang". Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  3. "DAT". DAT. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  4. Sophus Tromholt (1885). Under the rays of the aurora borealis: in the land of the Lapps and Kvæns [tr. and] ed. by C. Siewers. pp. 181–. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  5. David MacRitchie (1884). Ancient and modern Britons: a retrospect. K. Paul, Trench & co. pp. 399–. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  6. Michael Conran (1850). The national music of Ireland: containing the history of the Irish bards, the national melodies, the harp, and other musical instruments of Erin. J. Johnson. pp. 115–. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  7. "Luren: tolv lappiske og norske viser og sange" Abraham Wilhelm Brun, 1900.
  8. April Fast; Keltie Thomas (October 2003). Sweden: the culture. Crabtree Publishing Company. pp. 24–. ISBN 978-0-7787-9329-8. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  9. Jan Ling (1997). A history of European folk music. University Rochester Press. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-1-878822-77-2. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  10. Arthur Spencer (1978). The Lapps. Crane, Russak. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8448-1263-2. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  11. Carl von Linné and Sir James Edward Smith: Lachesis lapponica. A tour in Lapland, Linnaeus (1811), Volume: 2 (p. 51).


External links

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