Nordic Tunes

Swedish and Norwegian tunes

Finnish tunes

The fact that Finland (Suomi) is a distinct culture from the Scandinavian countries show up starkly in its folk music traditions. To complicate matters further, Finland was first a dependency of Sweden (and has a Swedish-speaking minority around Turku which had picked up some Swedish musical traditions), then became a dependency of Russia, only winning independence when the Bolshevik revolution was stopped at its borders in a brutal civil war. There are a lot of echos of Russian folk music in 20th century Finnish folk. Many (maybe most) of the Swedish tunes we play date back to the 19th century, with compositions from Nyckelharpa players like Byss-Kalle, and many fiddlers. Finland has a deep tradition in folk music, but the pre-20th century music doesn't have much of a fiddle or string tradition. Kantele, a kind of harp, was the national instrument, and Sibelius drew much on that genre of music (rune singers) in his compositions. There is also a deep and centuries-old vocal tradition of joik sinking among the Sami people, much of which has been picked up by contemporary groups like Angelin Tyhttot. Not much of that lends it to session playing, and most of the Finnish tunes we play date from the first half of the 20th century, though (as in Sweden, with it's new tunes from groups like Väsen) there is a lot of new Finnish folk music being composed. A lot of that (e.g. Värtinnä) doesn't lend itself well to session playing, but the accordionist Maria Kalaniemi has contributed a deep body of new tunes. Finland has a lively and continuing dance-hall tradition, and many of the tunes are made for dances like jenkka (a lot like a schottis), humppa (a kind of fast polka) and a whole lot of valssi (waltzes). Out in the countryside, a visit to the tanssilava is a part of summer, and up in Äkäslompolo in the ski season the Riemuliiteri is hopping. There was also a very active Finnish musical cinema scene up through the 1960's, with many of the films directed by Reino Helismaa (Rovaniemen Markinoillä is one of the classics). Many of the tunes commonly played are movie music from these films. There was a great folk music revival beginning in the 1920's (shortly after Finland won its independence from Russia), with a lot of compositions from the great Finnish fiddler Konsta Jylhä, who remained active up to the 1980's. The Kaustinen festival, which he founded, continues to this day.

Christmas and Advent

In the Nordic countries, Christmas festivities start around the first of Advent. In Sweden, Luciadagen (a mashup of pagan Lusse traditions with the cult of Santa Lucia) is a lovely holiday the 13th of December, with lussekattor (saffron buns) offered around with coffee in the morning, special songs, and the Luciatåg, led by Lucia with a crown of candles. Then everybody hibernates roughly from New Years to Easter, except for a brief awakening around Tjugondag Knut when the Christmas tree is taken out at the Julgransplundringkalas. Here are a few songs from all the Nordic countries, played and sung in the season.

10 o'clock sheet music

When 10 o'clock rolls around at the Scandi Session, Ed hands out sheet music for a new tune, which we learn by sight-reading or just listening to the others until we get the hang of it. A lot of these have nice harmony lines, so please do feel free to give them a go. Some of our 10 o'clock tunes are archived here. At some point, if they become popular enough, they'll be promoted to the main tunebook.