Monday, 2 April 2007

Music on a pike’s jaw

The Finns have an epic of their own, The Kalevala that is quite unique in the world as there is no creation story similar to it, as all the other original creation stories told around the world resemble each other in some ways.

Anyway, in the Kalevala there are all the tales as poems about how earth was created is and so on. In it the head character, Väinämöinen creates an instrument called the Kantele out of the jaw of a pike fish, stringing it up and playing music on it and singing.

The Kantele is still used and played at here in Finland but today it is not anymore made out of the pikes jaws, they are more like flat wooden boxes lying on tables with lots of strings and played traditional Finnish music on. The songs have normally been traditional poems and tales that have been sung for centuries, but I just recently found out that it is not quite as uncommon as I had thought.

There are actually classes at the conservatory to take, they do give lessons in playing the Kantele, and you can even get a degree in playing it. Last week I accidentally met a person that plays the Kantele, a lady that studies the art of playing it as well as gives lessons at the conservatory. She writes her own new contemporary songs to play on the Kantele and restores antique Kantele instruments ones as a hobby. Wow!

So Kantele is not only history, it still is going strong in contemporary life here in Finland.

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