The musical tradition of my family

Traditional vocal music has been passed on from generation to generation at home in the Sámi culture. The children have learned their tradition by listening. Families have had music that tells about the families, passed on from the parents to children. Traditional Sámi music is also a form of storytelling.

Disappearing tradition

In many regions, the traditional Sámi vocal music dialects (Sámi music) were the first thing that disappeared or were forgotten because of the assimilation policy that the Sámi were subjected to. The foundation of Sámi Music Academy’s activities is the revitalisation of the traditional Sámi vocal music dialects. This is done by training teachers and musicians and also grassroots Sámi who intend to adopt and revive the musical tradition of their own family. The musical tradition may be revived within a family with just a single master of the tradition.

Church eager opponent

The mainstream cultures did not entirely succeed in destroying the Sámi music, though this was actively attempted for centuries. The Church was the most eager opponent of Sámi music, because the Church regarded  Sámi music as involving the worship of Sámi gods. In the eyes of the Church, traditional Sámi music was a sin and a method of practising witchcraft. Traditional Sámi music has also been associated with other negative issues, such as alcoholism. Because of belittling attitudes, the state assimilation policy and the opposition of the Church, the traditional Sámi vocal music dialects were close to disappearing before the renaissance of the Sámi culture initiated in the 1960s.

Empowering experience

Sámi Music Academy has a particular method for reviving the musical tradition of  ancestors and family. Whilst seeking one’s own musical tradition, students also learn about the history, people and locales of their family. Finding the lost musical tradition is an empowering experience.

Perinne ei ollutkaan katkennut

“At first, I thought yoik would not exist in my family. This also was the case, and I still have not found it.  Instead, I found something else. My grandmother’s father-in-law had made a livđe out of her! In addition, there was a livđe even in my great-grandfather. Our teacher, Marko Jouste, had archive tapes for his research, and it was there that this livđe was found. When I got deeper into it, I found out that my uncle and my aunt remembered grandma’s livđe. The tradition was never broken.”

Pauli Saijets, student 2018-2020