Thursday, 16 December 2010

Sami Yoik

A new CD from BIS, Songs for Jukkasjarvi music by acclaimed Sami composer Gunnar Idenstam. "...a suite written for the 400th anniversary of the church in Jukkasjärvi, a small community beyond the Arctic Circle in the north of Sweden. Jukkasjärvi was one of the traditional meeting places of the Sami people as they moved their herds of reindeer between the seasonal pastures in the mountains and the lowlands. Written for two singers – one of whom specializes in his own, characteristic Sami yoik singing – folk fiddle, saxophone, percussion, organ and synthesizers, the music is highly atmospheric. Purely instrumental pieces are interspersed with songs in the Sami language, and in a unique mix, the sound of the Sami yoik is married to the Swedish folk music tradition and the sonic possibilities of a large church organ, taking in influences from symphonic folk rock."

The Sami are nomadic herdsmen who live in the European Arctic Circle. Their music is plaintive, primitive, almost unworldly yet also deeply moving. To quote Ánde Somby, a noted Sami and scholar and yoiker,"The regular concept of a western European song is that it has a start, a middle and an ending. In that sense, a song will have a linear structure. A yoik seems to start and stop suddenly. It hasn't a start or neither an ending. Yoik is definitively not a line, but it is perhaps a kind of circle. Yoik is not a circle that would have Euclidian symmetry although it has maybe a depth symmetry. That emphasizes that if you were asking for the start or the ending of a yoik, your question would be wrong".

Once you've heard  a Sami Yoik,  you don't forget. In our stressed out hyper techno society I think we need music like this more than ever. Unfortunately the CD doesn't come out til the new year, or I'd get it in order to survive the commercial Xmas season, but I've placed an advance order anyway.  Please visit this site to hear sound samples to see why Sami music has a following.

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