Modern Sámi music

Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s album Joikuja started a whole new era in Sámi music and served as the foundation for the reform of Sámi music, not only in Finland but everywhere in the Sámi homeland.

“New Yoik”

It can be said that the era of modern Sámi music started with a single album. The first Sámi album of popular or modern music was released in 1969.

Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s Joikuja (OT-LP50) was the first album combining instrumental music and the traditional yoik, as Valkeapää’s yoiking was accompanied by a guitarist. Nils-Aslak Valkeapää called the new music style “New yoik.” Valkeapää’s footsteps were first followed by Deatnogátte Nuorat, whose debut album (MAI7402) included their own yoiks and songs as well as a few yoiks earlier recorded by Valkeapää.

Esteemed tradition

Traditional yoiking and new traditional Sámi music dialects have retained their important significance in Sámi culture, though new music styles have also gained ground. Nils-Aslak Valkeapää himself wanted to emphasise the significance of yoik and worked hard to maintain the yoik tradition during his life.

Versatile Sami music

The Sámi Grand Prix song contest is an example of how the value of traditional Sámi music is maintained. It has its own sections for non-accompanied traditional music and for modern Sámi music. This way, we are able to listen also to newly produced traditional Sámi music each year. The reformation of Sámi music started by Valkeapää has had good results, and today’s Sámi music is versatile. There are plenty of genres: pop, rock, heavy metal, dance, children’s music, ethnic music, rap, spiritual… Sámi music is heard on the radio, albums, in Spotify, and at festivals, etc., and is part of everyday Sámi life.


Kirjoittanut Annukka Hirvasvuopio-Laiti