"Oh my mother, old wife, you have been buried in the earth so long": how contemporary Finnish musicians create a connection between singers, mothers, and generations through Kalevalaic runo singing
(University of Helsinki)
Paper short abstract:
During the last two decades in Finland, young professional folk musicians have re-vitalized an old genre of oral poetry. The songs are seen as a tool to create a connection between old and new generations. The musicians emphasize that, through runo singing, a "chain of mothers" can be recreated.
Paper long abstract:
During the last two decades in Finland, young professional folk musicians have re-vitalized an old genre of oral poetry. This genre, Kalevalaic runo singing, has been a central poetic language used in the Baltic-Finnic area, and it is also one of the most nourished symbols of Finnish nationalism. The sung poems have traveled a long journey from the lips of nineteenth-century Viena Karelian singers to the concert halls of today's Helsinki. With the extensive collections of textualized folk poems, the organized archival institutions and the spread of systematic folkloristic research as a background, runo singing has become a salient part of the professional new folk music field.
The new runo singing is seen as a tool to create a connection between tradition and modernity and old and new generations. Most of the contemporary musicians are female, and they argue that runo singing provides a channel to understand the ancestors' (especially female ancestors') mental landscape and history. They also emphasize that, through runo singing, a "chain of mothers" can be recreated and experienced.
In this paper I shall examine how this connection is made, and how contemporary musicians perform ethnicity and gender in relation to questions posed by runo singing, heritage and "maternal inheritance". The paper is based on my dissertation and the fieldwork I have done in years 2011-2015.
Performing identities: age and gender related viewpoints to the poetics of past, present, and future