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A Musical Summer: Lofoten and the Sami Population

Posted By Amanda Tomlinson on 02/07/2014


British summertime in recent years has become synonymous with music festivals, from the muddy fields of Glastonbury, to the more relaxed Proms in Hyde Park – but what do we know about Scandinavian music?


Of course we can all list the basics, Roxette, A-ha, and The Cardigans, Bjork and of course ABBA. But what about traditional Nordic music?


A highly spiritual, improvised music known as ‘Joik’ is the traditional music of the Sámi indigenous population of Lapland, falling under the ‘Nordic Folk’ category.


The Sámi population use unique instruments in their music, including a reed pipe ‘Fadno’, a ceremonial Sámi drum and a wooden horn called a ‘Lur’.The most notable instrument is the ‘Kantele’ (‘harppu’ in Sami), a traditional plucked string instrument native to Finland. The kantele is learnt in schools (slightly different to those recorder days in primary school…and probably a lot less painful to the ear!)


Mari Boine was born in Karasjok, in a small village on the Norway Finland border, and is arguably the most well known Sámi singer. Her minimalist folk rock with a ‘Joik’ roots have been praised around the world and she has been awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize. Her lyrics describe the wildness, beauty and the mythology of Lapland shown in the Uldda Nieda music video.



However many songs also address the issues that face the Sami people, including issues of racism, gender inequality and Sámi social history such as Kautokeino song based on the 1852 Sámi Rebellion in Guovdageaidnu.



Væroy, Lofoten, in Mari Boine’s native Norway provides the dramatic setting for a unique music festival, coinciding with the 24 hour daylight synonymous with the Arctic Circle. With glacier peaks melting, mountains slowly changing colour with the blossom and sea eagles flying overhead, you can visit beautiful Lofoten to see a unique backdrop to the Midnight Sun Music and Art Festival that occurs in mid-July.

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