Music of Finland

Music of Finland
Music of Finland
Karelia Sami music
Humppa Kantele
Genres Folk - Pop - Opera - Rock (Suomirock) - Hip hop - Trance
Finno-Ugric music
Estonia - Finland - Hungary - Khantia-Mansia - Komi Republic - Mari El - Mordovia - Nenetsia - Udmurtia

The music of Finland can be roughly divided in the following three categories.

Folk music is typically influenced by Karelian traditional tunes and lyrics of the Kalevala metre. Karelian heritage has traditionally been perceived as the purest expression of Finnic myths and beliefs, thought to be spared from Germanic and Slavic influences. In the west of the country, more mainstream Nordic folk music traditions prevail. The Sami people of northern Finland have their own musical traditions, collectively Sami music. Finnish folk music has undergone a roots revival in the recent decades, and has also become a part of popular music.

In the field of classical music, Finland has produced a proportionally exceptional number of artists.

Contemporary music includes e.g. a renowned metal music scene, in common with the other Nordic countries, as well as a number of prominent rock and pop bands, jazz musicians, hip hop performers and makers of dance music. A Schlager scene with bandstand dancing exists where Finnish tango, somewhat modified from the Argentinian, is also popular.


Folk music

There are two major traditions of folk music in Finland, namely, music of the Kalevala form, and Nordic folk music or pelimanni music (North Germanic spelman, "player of music"). The former is considered the older one. Its most important form is called runonlaulanta ("poem singing" or chanting) which is traditionally performed in a trochaic tetrametre using only the first five notes on a scale. Making use of alliteration, this type of singing was used to tell stories about heroes like Väinämöinen, Lemminkäinen, and Kullervo. The songs were memorised, not written down, and performed by a soloist, or by a soloist and a chorus in antiphony (see: Kalevala). The Vantaa Chamber Choir is an example of a choir that sings such poems in modern arrangements.

Pelimanni music is the Finnish version of the Nordic folk dance music, and it is tonal. It came to Finland from Central Europe via Scandinavia starting in the 17th century, and in the 19th century pelimanni music replaced the Kalevalaic tradition. Pelimanni music was generally played on the fiddle and clarinet. Later, the harmonium and various types of accordions were also used. Common dances in the pelimanni traditions include the polska, polka, mazurka, schottische, quadrille, waltz, and minuet.

A form of rhyming sleigh singing called rekilaulu also became popular in the 17th century. Despite opposition from most of the churches in Finland, rekilaulu remained popular and is today a common element in pop songs[citation needed]. Since the 1920s, several popular Finnish performers have used rekilaulu as an integral part of their repertoire. Early pioneers in this field of pop rekilaulu included Arthur Kylander, while Erkki Rankaviita and Pinnin Pojat have kept the tradition alive.

Early in the 20th century, the region of Kaustinen became a center of innovation for pelimanni music. Friiti Ojala and Antti Järvelä were fiddlers of the period. Konsta Jylhä and the other members of Purpuripelimannit formed in 1946 became perhaps the most influential group of this classical period. Well-known Finnish folk music groups of today in the Kaustinen tradition include JPP, Frigg (although part Norwegian), and Troka. A group more focused on the earlier Kalevala singing traditions and the kantele is Värttinä. Another important folk musician of today is the accordionist Maria Kalaniemi.

Common instruments today also include trumpets, horns and whistle. Important musical virtuosos are Leena Joutsenlahti, Teppo Repo and Virpi Forsberg.[citation needed] More traditional Finnish instruments include the kantele, which is a chordophone, and was used in the Kalevala by the hero Väinämöinen. More primitive instruments like the jouhikko (a bowed lyre) and the säkkipilli (Finnish bagpipe) had fallen into disuse, but are now finding new popularity in a folk revival.[1]

In the 20th century, influences from modern music and dances such as jazz and foxtrot led to distinctively Finnish forms of dance music such as humppa and jenkka.

Sami music

The Sami of northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway are known for highly spiritual songs called joik, reminiscent of a few types of Native American singing. The same word sometimes refers to lavlu or vuelie songs, though this is technically incorrect. The hip hop artist Amoc is noted for rapping in Inari Sami, a Sami language from the area of Inari.

Classical & Opera

Vårt land (Maamme), the national anthem of Finland, from 1863

In the 18th century, public concerts were established in Turku and Erik Tulindberg wrote six very famous string quartets. After Russia's 1809 annexation of Finland, the cities of Viipuri and Helsinki became cultural centers and opera became very popular. The first Finnish opera was written by the German composer Fredrik Pacius in 1852. Pacius also wrote Maamme/Vårt land (Our Land), Finland's national anthem and founded Akademiska Sångföreningen in year 1838, the oldest still active choir in Finland.

In 1874 the Society for Culture and Education (Kansanvalistusseura) was founded in order to provide opportunities for artistic expression, beginning with the Jyväskylä festival in 1881. The festival, organized on Estonian roots, still exists today. In 1883, the Helsinki University Chorus (Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat) was founded as one of the few Finnish-language choirs in the mostly Swedish-speaking scene.[2] The same year conductor Robert Kajanus founded what is known as the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Martin Wegelius founded what is now known as the Sibelius Academy.

In the 1890s Finnish nationalism based on the Kalevala spread, and Jean Sibelius became famous for his vocal symphony Kullervo. He soon received a grant to study poetry singers in Karelia and continued his rise as the first prominent Finnish musician. In 1899 he composed Finlandia, which played its important role in Finland gaining independence. He remains one of Finland's most popular national figures and is a symbol of the nation.

Alongside Sibelius, the national romanticism sprouted a number of composers who all contributed in the formation of a distinct Finnish style of music. Heino Kaski was a composer of small chamber music pieces, Yrjö Kilpinen composed a vast number of solo songs, as well as Leevi Madetoja and Toivo Kuula.

Aino Ackté and other prominent opera singers founded the Finnish Opera in 1911. Ackté also began a festival in Savonlinna the following year; this was the precursor of the Savonlinna Opera Festival, which was started in the 1960s, shortly before the new Finnish opera became famous in the 1970s.

Leevi Madetoja's 1924 Pohjalaisia, an operatic allegory about Russian oppression during the previous decades, became popular during the 1920s. At roughly the same time, Aarre Merikanto composed the opera Juha to the libretto by Aino Ackté, who rejected it and asked Leevi Madetoja to compose another version instead; Merikanto's Juha was first performed after the composers death in 1958, and is now known as one of the best Finnish operas. The 1930s saw composers like Uuno Klami and Yrjö Kilpinen rise to popularity. Kilpinen's approach was somewhat nationalistic, whereas Klami had Karelian influences while also leaning towards French models. Swedish-speaking composers Einar Englund and Erik Bergman also worked with a more continental attitude. In the 1940s, Bergman and Joonas Kokkonen gained popularity and added important technical innovations to Finnish music. The 1950s saw an increase in international attention on Finnish music and soon helped modernize Finnish composing. Einojuhani Rautavaara and Usko Meriläinen belonged to the young composers who made their breakthrough at this time.

Aulis Sallinen started a new wave of Finnish opera in the 1970s with The Horseman and The Red Line. The Red Line was soon recognized all over the globe with numerous reproductions in a.o. Moscow, London and New York. Magnus Lindberg is probably the most successful living Finnish composer. Other important contemporary composers include Kalevi Aho, Kaija Saariaho and Jouni Kaipainen.

Finland has a very lively classical music scene. Since Finnish classical music has only existed for a little over a century, many important original composers are still alive. The composers are accompanied by a large number of great conductors such as Mikko Franck, Esa-Pekka Salonen (also a notable composer), Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Susanna Mälkki, Leif Segerstam and Sakari Oramo OBE.

Popular music


Iskelmä (coined directly from the German word Schlager, meaning hit) is a traditional Finnish word for a light popular song. Georg Malmstén started his career in the 1930s. After World War II and pre-rock music era, such names as Olavi Virta or Tapio Rautavaara, for example, were among the most popular male singing stars in Finland, and Toivo Kärki and Reino Helismaa most popular song-writers. Such foreign musical genres as tango would find their domestic audience as their Finnish appropriations. Laila Kinnunen, Carola, Annikki Tähti, Brita Koivunen and Vieno Kekkonen were some of the most acclaimed Finnish chanteuses of this time period. From the late 1960s, Irwin Goodman (a.k.a. Antti Hammarberg), combining iskelmä and protest songs, would gain popularity with the humorous tunes penned by Vexi Salmi, who would become one of the most laborious writer of lyrics also for other Finnish artists. Juha "Watt" Vainio was another popular song-writer, known not only for Finnish renditions of many international hits but also for his own songs and being a performer in his own right. In the 1970s, hugely successful "Finnhits" compilation records of various artists would continue in the iskelmä tradition. Also rural-flavoured humppa would prove to be a successful variation of iskelmä, later on parodied by the band Eläkeläiset. Other popular Finnish iskelmä singers are among all Katri-Helena, Danny (a.k.a. Ilkka Lipsanen), Fredi, Eino Grön, Erkki Junkkarinen, Frederik (a.k.a. Ilkka Sysimetsä), Marion Rung, Tapani Kansa, Kirka (a.k.a. Kirill Babitzin), Matti & Teppo, Jari Sillanpää, and Kikka Sirén. The annual Eurovision Song Contest has been avidly followed in Finland and eagerly participated by the singers voted to the contest by national juries, and were finally successful in 2006 with the melodic heavy rock band Lordi.

Like Finnish music in general, iskelmä is written mostly in minor, although to this rule there are many exceptions. The melodies have a distinguishable Finnish "flavour" that is somewhat related to Russian and Italian melodies and harmonies although Scandinavian and Anglo-American influence can also be heard.

Iskelmä music is mostly and essentially dance music, and it is mostly if not solely performed on dancing stages and halls spread around the country. The best known and perhaps most beloved and respected though not most performed or danced genre of dances is the tango. A clear indication of this is, that the annual Finnish contest for iskelmä artists is named as "Tangomarkkinat" meaning "The Tango Marketplace"; many of the superstars of contemporary iskelmä have won this competition and it is major spectacle in Finland, even to some extent comparable with the San Remo festival in Italy.

Iskelmä is typically non-urban music and its greatest popularity is situated to the countryside and smaller cities.

Traditionally has accordion been the major instrument in iskelmä music and it is still played, but has in most cases been replaced by guitar, electric piano and synthesizer. These, with drums, electric bass and occasional use of saxophone form the basic instrumentation of iskelmä.

Rock Music

Rock arrived in Finland in the 1950s. The first bands performing the Founded in the 1960s, Love Records was one of the first domestic record labels dedicated to Finnish rock music, even though the label's roster also included jazz and political songs. During the late 1960s, Blues Section, a group inspired by Jimi Hendrix and The Who gained the reputation of being "the first Finnish band of international quality". Another band that gained some reputation was Apollo that had the later great jazz-drummer Edward Vesala as a bandmember. During these early days of Finnish rock the music didn't have much typically Finnish "flavour" and in the case of most bands, the activity was restricted in performing music made by international superstars. The aforementioned Blues Section, that later developed into internationally acknowledged "superband" Wigwam, that had an English singer Jim Pembroke, who also wrote the lyrics of the band and also many of the melodies/harmonies of their songs. In the early days of the band there however were also songs with Finnish lyrics written by Jukka Gustafsson such as the classical Luulosairas. During the 1970s, progressive rock groups Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti received critical acclaim in the United Kingdom, but fame evaded them. Pekka Streng was one of the great early pioneers of Finnish rock music with his very personal progressive folkrock and Finnish lyrics with a spiritual content. In '00s there was a Streng-renaissance and one of his songs even became an international club hit. A hard-rocking group called Hurriganes was popular in Sweden as well as in Finland, but not further afield. Hector, Juice Leskinen, Dave Lindholm and many other successful artists of the '70s sang their lyrics in Finnish, a trend that has continued to this day. During the '70s the genre of "suomirock" were born through the pioneering work of artists such as mentioned above.

Suomirock is a word that literally means Finnish rock music. However, its true meaning is a more specific one, meaning rock/pop music with Finnish lyrics. As a genre and a name it really started its life in the '80s following the punk movement. It means rock/pop music, that is not only imitating international trends or otherwise having international sound and English lyrics, but a form of rock-music, that is recognizably Finnish and have Finnish lyrics. A more and more general and recent term is "suomipop". The boundaries between what is considered "rock" and "pop" have become quite blurred and arbitrary, and largely dependent upon personal preference. As it is also to some extent with rock / pop and iskelmä. Traditionally in iskelmä-music the artists themselves with few exceptions did not write their songs or lyrics, but in the rock scene the autonomity of the artist was considered important. It still is, but in the '00s it is more and more typical that new performers such as Idols songcontest winner Ari Koivunen perform even heavyrock in the manner, that used to be typical only in iskelmä-scene.

The punk movement arrived in Finland in 1977 and had a great influence on the Finnish youth culture, Pelle Miljoona being the most famous Finnish punk singer. Terveet Kädet also started the hardcore punk-wave in Finland. Another popular band, Eppu Normaali, also started during this time period, (later to change its style from punk to rock / pop). At the same time, Finland also had a massive Ted movement of Elvis and rockabilly fans.

In 1980s most favoured artists were punkish Dingo and heavy-hearted , both singing their lyrics in Finnish. In the underground, Ismo Alanko, considered by many as the foremost Finnish rock lyricist, gained a legendary status with his punkish groups Hassisen Kone and Sielun Veljet. Kauko Röyhkä was another literate underground icon, leaning musically towards Velvet Underground. The '80s showed short international fame for punk style glam rock band Hanoi Rocks. Hanoi Rocks have been cited as an influence by major bands such as Guns N' Roses. Smack and Peer Günt were other successful Finnish bands of same style. Heavy metal was very popular in Finland during the '80s, producing groups like Zero Nine and Stone, the latter being a fondly remembered speed metal act. Hardcore punk is also popular in Finland, including bands such as Endstand, Abduktio, I Walk the Line, and Lighthouse Project.

In the early 1990s Finnish rock parody group the Leningrad Cowboys, a re-grouped international rock comedy band that grew out of the Finnish comedy band the Sleepy Sleepers, whose members were used as actors in Aki Kaurismäki´s comedy film Leningrad Cowboys Go America, achieved Central European touring success and performed live at the MTV Music Awards in New York City in 1994, together with the full Red Army Choir, performing Sweet Home Alabama. This was the biggest TV audience of any Finnish music artist ever. Leningrad Cowboys were famous for outrageous outfits including ridiculous rock-a-billy hairdos and ultra-pointed shoes. The band was not able to develop that visibility into more US success but remained popular in parts of Europe.

Though Finnish bands tend to write their lyrics in English as to leave their music open to countries outside of native Finnish boundaries, in the 1990s bands such as Apulanta, Miljoonasade, Ultra Bra and the shamanic art-punk group CMX had found their share of success with Finnish lyrics. The hard-to-define electronic country garage rock group 22 Pistepirkko got excellent reviews in the Finnish rock press and has reached some kind of a cult status in Central Europe. Some other notable Finnish cult rock groups of this era are the psychedelic, Hendrixian Kingston Wall that went in their late period far into psychedilia taking influence from shamanism and some of some genres of electronic dance music, and equally psychedelic but gothic, gloomy, and heavy Mana Mana.

Heavy Metal

Finland is known for its many heavy metal acts, including many from the death metal, black metal, folk metal, power metal, cello metal and symphonic metal sub-genres:

In the later 1990s the symphonic metal group Apocalyptica played Metallica cover songs as cello quartettos and sold half a million records worldwide. The recently retired Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus were one of Finland's most popular metal acts in the early 2000s, having risen from the ashes of late 1980s - early 1990s cult band Lyijykomppania. Children's power metal band Hevisaurus have also become popular, mostly in their native country.

Kotiteollisuus is undoubtedly one of the most popular bands in Finland, having produced one platinum and several gold-selling albums and winning Emma-awards in 2003 and 2005 for best metal record (Helvetistä itään) and best DVD (Kotiteollisuus DVD) respectively.

Most recently, the Finnish hard rock band Lordi won the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest with a record 292 points, giving Finland its first ever victory. The song they used was "Hard Rock Hallelujah" and they celebrated this with a free concert in Market Square in Helsinki, Finland, on 26 May 2006.

Another band to enjoy recent commercial success is The Rasmus. After eleven years together and several domestic releases, the band finally captured Europe. Their Dead Letters album sold 1.5 million units worldwide and garnered them eight gold and five platinum album designations. The single "In the Shadows" placed on Top 10 charts in eleven countries and was the most played video on MTV Europe for 2005. The Helsinki natives released their follow up album, Hide From The Sun, domestically in 2005. The album has a U.S. release date of 10.10.2006. To promote the album's US release, the band has toured with the Welsh band Lostprophets, a band that has gained a great deal of success in both Europe and the United States. The new album Black Roses is set to be released on September. The album was produced by Desmond Child and the first single is called Livin' in a World Without You. This album was released worldwide on September 29. The single livin in a world without you was released on the 10th of September 2008.

HIM in 2005

From the beginning of 2000, HIM reached greater sales and more international success than any other band to ever come from Finland. Going gold with their first official American release Dark Light. Several Finnish bands have followed the lead of that band. Entwine, Lullacry, and Poisonblack are just a few Finnish bands of these genres.


Finland also has its share of hip-hop bands as during the late 1990s to early 2000s, the Finnish hip-hop scene has gained strength. Dating back from growing underground culture one of the first Finnish Hip Hop records with lyrics in English was recorded at Vernissa (C) Manus / (P) Johanna Kustannus 1991 by Damn The Band. Later Finland has Nuera with MC's Skem (Henry Kaprali) & Dream (Petri Laurila) from Tampere region. Nueras first release is dated to 1992. Same guys, together with DJ K2 were also behind a hip-hop based radio show on YleX. The first popular hip-hop band to break the taboo of making rap lyrics in Finnish (rapping in Finnish was not regarded as serious business because the first artists to do this in the early '90s such as Raptori, Nikke T and Pääkköset were humorous project and were popular mostly among children) was Fintelligens arguably one of the most successful hip hop bands in Finland. Let's not forget about Ceebrolistics, their first casette single Sping was released on 1995 their lyrics has been both in Finnish and English. Few other important very popular but underground acts were MC Taakibörsta , Notkea Rotta and Paleface just to mention a few from the same era.

Today rap music is one of the major genres of Finnish pop-music and there are many artists, who have reached wide popularity. Still it can be said, that rap-scene is primarily an underground-movement. But even independent artists such as ASA[disambiguation needed ] with often very political and critical lyrics are quite popular. ASA's "leijonaa mä metsästän"-album was the third on Finnish albumchart in 2005. Finnish rap-artists, such as Paleface with English lyrics have not attained international success. An exception to this is /breakbeat-/electro-/ hiphop-band Bomfunk MC's, who with their MC Raymond Ebanks became popular in Central Europe, as they had the most sold European single of 2000, "Freestyler" along with trance music act Darude's "Sandstorm".

Pop Music

In 90´s a popular new trend was so-called euro-dance music and this style also had Finnish followers, many of which however are today quite forgotten. A couple of bands also wrote their lyrics in English, but didn's make it on the international music-marked. To mention few artists, there were Hausmylly, Aikakone and Movetron.

Some contemporary Pop/Rock singers, such as Maija Vilkkumaa, Jenni Vartiainen, Anssi Kela, Irina, Chisu, Anna Puu, Anna Eriksson, Hanna Pakarinen and Antti Tuisku, and pop rock groups such as Scandinavian Music Group, Poets of the Fall and PMMP, are very popular in Finland and they all primarily sing in Finnish, which may contribute to their relatively low profile internationally.

Since the late '90s / early '00s female artists have taken a more visible role in the Finnish pop music scene, not only as performers, but also songwriters. A talented singer-songwriter Chisu writing Finnish lyrics for instance is a good example of this phenomenon with a couple of her songs, that can very well be considered classics beside the songs of Eppu Normaali, Tuomari Nurmio and others in the future.

Contemporary Folk Music

In the '00s an underground-movement of new Finnish folk music came out. Artists such as Joose Keskitalo, Kuusumun Profeetta, Paavoharju and others have brought something new into the Finnish music scene although wider popularity has not reached them. Despite their lyrics written in Finnish these bands have also attained international recognizion, even cult-following. Also very well known artists with a status of a "classic", J. Karjalainen and Pauli Hanhiniemi have in their contemporary production gone to the direction of folk-music although this music has in spite of being recognized by critics, been left unnoticed by the larger public.

Another new phenomenon of '00s beside that of the very popular rap- and the underground folk-scenes, is "suomireggae". With their Finnish lyrics with moral and spiritual content these artists such as Soul-Captain Band, Kapteeni Ä-ni, Jukka-Poika and Raappana have also reached not just a cult following but also wider popularity.

The underground scenes of various genres are very lively in Finland at the moment and a lot of bands and artists defy the genre-limits. A good example is very popular Finnish underground rapartist ASA (formerly known as mc Avain), who has used folk-artists as the accompaigning band. Of bands such as Profeetta ja UMU it is very hard to say, what genre they represent.

List of classical songs of Finnish popular music

A number of iskelmä, rock- and popsongs have attained a status of a classic, becoming part of the "national songbook", many of which are practically known by every native finn, the standard for the status being, that practically everyone has to have some connection with the song and it is not a "hit of today", that can be forgotten. To know such songs is an important aspect of any cultural identity and they also give a glimpse into the mindset and nature of that particular culture. Although the differences between "pop", "rock" and "iskelmä", not to mention other genre names, especially between the first two and the last one, are remarkable both in terms of musical sound and social signification - stereotypically "iskelmä" being music for people of greater age and countryside, "rock" and "pop" that of youth and people living in cities - the boundaries between the "genres" are in reality rather vague. This seems to be specially true in case of some of the small number of the greatest classics, that are performed over and over again in original form, or rearranged into new musical idioms and dialects. These songs and also some of the artists, who have been especially successful in composing these "songs of the book" in a way transcend the aforementioned boundaries of musical genre. Many of these songs are truly rather classics of Finnish popular music in general, than of any specific genre; and all of them are constituents of Finnish cultural identity. Older traditional songs, still alive are also included into the list.

Songs written by Finnish artists whose lyrics are written in English are divided into a category of its own. There are also many classics dating especially to 50's, 60's and 70's, that are not of Finnish origin, but international hits with new Finnish lyrics. These songs, bearing the name "käännösiskelmä" ("translated schlager") are also divided into a list of their own.

International hits:

  • Aikuinen nainen, A.Cassella, Kaisu Liuhala
  • Hopeinen Kuu(Guarda de luna)
  • Kesäkatu (Summer in the city), (Loving Spoonfull)
  • Kolmatta linjaa takaisin (Beautiful in the rain), Tony Hatch, Juha Vainio
  • Meksikon Pikajuna (Orient Express), Gerhard Moore, Reino Helismaa
  • Rööperiin (Penny Lane)
  • Miljoona ruusua (Million alyh roz)
  • Vanha holvikirkko (Mälarö kyrka), Lenne Broberg, Saukki

Electronic music

In the field of electronic music, Jori Hulkkonen, as well as Jimi Tenor and Pan Sonic, have had underground success worldwide for a decade. In the sphere of trance Finland has given birth to internationally renowned DJs such as DJ Orkidea, Alex Kunnari, DJ Proteus, JS16, Super8 & Tab and Paavo Siljamäki, who is best known for being in the trance groups Above & Beyond and OceanLab. Other notable Finnish artists are Imatran Voima, Mr Velcro Fastener, Luomo a.k.a. Vladislav Delay, Brothomstates, Lackluster, Pan Sonic, Op:l Bastards and Ovuca. Some of the best-known electronic music labels are among all Sähkö Recordings, Dum Records (run by Kimmo Rapatti a.k.a. Mono Junk) and Jyväskylä's Rikos Records. The indisputable pioneer of Finnish electronic music is Erkki Kurenniemi who built his legendary DIMI synthesizers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There's also the Finnish underground psy trance culture, which is mostly active in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The Finnish style (suomisaundi) of psy trance music is known worldwide and has notable fan audiences abroad, for example in Japan and Russia. Main characters in Finnish psy trance are artists such as Mullet Mohawk, Texas Faggott and Squaremeat. By far the most popular Finnish electronica artist is Darude (Ville Virtanen), who gained international success with his chart-topping single "Sandstorm," and the following hit album "Before the Storm." His music is a combination of hard house and progressive trance. The Finnish Hard Dance scene has also gained some following, primarily due to Helsinki based DJ Proteus winning the title of Best DJ at The Hard Dance Awards in 2004 and 2005. Finland also has a popular and internationally recognised Freeform hardcore scene, with the FINRG label enjoying large success in the UK, Australia, and more recently Canada and the United States.

In experimental electronica, noise and ambient electronic music, Finland is represented by artists like Petri Kuljuntausta, Rihmasto, Nemesis, Niko Skorpio, Dystopia, Ozone Player, Winterplanet, Corporate 09, Outer Space Alliance.


Sakari Kukko with his group Piirpauke since thirty years explores many styles between Folk, Jazz and ethnic music from other countries. A Finnish jazz vocalist, who reached international fame, is Carola. The most famous Finnish Jazz musician is Edward Vesala, others are Heikki Sarmanto, Jarmo Savolainen, Markku Ounaskari, Samuli Mikkonen, Juhani Aaltonen and Eero Koivistoinen. Pekka Pohjola and Jukka Tolonen, formerly of prog groups Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti respectively, represent the Jazz rock genre. The only two professional big bands in Finland, Espoo Big Band and UMO (abbreviation of "Uuden Musiikin Orkesteri", New Music Orchestra) have attained worldwide interest and have worked with many of the world's leading jazz musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Thad Jones, Maria Schneider etc.

Nu-jazz, a modern form with electronic and pop influences, is also gaining popularity in Finland, represented by such groups as the long-serving Rinneradio and newcomers Quintessence, Nuspirit Helsinki, Five Corners Quintet and the U-Street All Stars.

Jazz rap is represented by Don Johnson Big Band.

Revival in the modern age

While a return to folk and socially active music was occurring in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere across the world, the Finnish roots revival began in the 1960s. The Ilmajoki Music Festival and Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, quickly became musical centers for the country and helped revitalize traditional Finnish folk music in a roots revival. The Runosong was revitalized by a new generation of performers, including Reijo Kela, Kimmo Pohjonen and Heikki Laitinen, who created the Kelavala performance art piece.

The International Folk Music Festival, established in 1968 in Kaustinen, was a major event in the popularization of Finnish folk. The 1970s saw further revival of Finnish folk music, including artists like Konsta Jylhä, JPP and Värttinä. Jylhä and his Purppuripelimannit band did the most to popular the scene in Finland.[3]

In more recent years, some non-Sami artists, including Enigma and Jan Garbarek, have used joik and other Sami styles in their music, while Marie Boine of Norway is probably the most internationally famous Sami star. 1996's critically acclaimed Suden Aika by Tellu Turkka saw a further return of runosong to the Finnish music scene.

The Finnish bagpipe, the säkkipilli, though previously extinct, is also being revived by folk musicians such as Petri Prauda.

Popular opera

Since the 1960s, Sinfonia Lahti's reputation as one of the most important Scandinavian orchestras was cemented by conductor Osmo Vänskä; this helped to cause a boom in opera's popularity during the 1980s, while the form was increasingly seen as archaic elsewhere. the Savonlinna Opera Festival reopened in 1967.

Martti Talvela, Karita Mattila and Jorma Hynninen have become international opera stars, while composers like Kalevi Aho, Olli Kortekangas, Paavo Heininen, Aulis Sallinen, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Atso Almila and Ilkka Kuusisto have written successful operas, with Rautavaara especially achieving international success.

Military music

The Military bands are a part of the Finnish Defence Forces. There is a total of thirteen military bands in Finland. They are relatively small in size, but are often reinforced with other local professional wind players.

Kaartin Soittokunta (The Guards' Band), Helsinki. 40 musicians + 2 conductors.
Panssarisoittokunta (The Armour Band), Hämeenlinna. 20 mus. + 1 cond.
Laivaston Soittokunta (The Navy Band), Turku. 20 mus. + 1 cond.
Ilmavoimien Soittokunta (The Air Force Band), Jyväskylä. 20 mus. + 1 cond.
Savon Sotilassoittokunta (The Band of Savo), Mikkeli. 20 mus. + 1 cond.
Oulun Sotilassoittokunta (The Military Band of Oulu), Oulu. 20 mus. + 1 cond.
Rakuunasoittokunta (The Dragoons Band), Lappeenranta. 14 mus. + 1 cond.
Pohjanmaan Sotilassoittokunta (The Osthrobothnian Military Band), Vaasa. 14 mus. + 1 cond.
Satakunnan Sotilassoittokunta (The Satakunta Military Band); Niinisalo. 14 mus. + 1 cond.
Karjalan Sotilassoittokunta (The Karelian Military Band); Kontioranta. 14 mus. + 1 cond.
Kainuun Sotilassoittokunta (The Kainuu Military Band); Kajaani. 14 mus. + 1 cond.
Lapin Sotilassoittokunta (The Military Band of Lapland); Rovaniemi. 14 mus. + 1 cond.

These are all fully professional orchestras with occasional support from conscripts: In addition; there is a large military band consisting only of conscripts with professional conductors called The Conscript Band of the Finnish Defence Forces. Its strength is about 60-70 musicians, it operates in Lahti and is concentrated on making marching shows and large-scale concerts.

Further listening

A 3CD box set entitled Beginner's Guide to Scandinavia was released by Nascente/Demon Music Group in May 2011. It was the first time that the various genres of Scandinavian music - pop, folk, jazz and experimental - had been combined on one album. Finnish artists featured include Värttinä, Kimmo Pohjonen, Maria Kalaniemi, Vuokko Hovatta, Sanna Kurki-Suonio, Islaja and Wimme.

Biggest radio stations

  • YLE, The Finnish state broadcasting corporation
    • Radio Ylen Ykkönen
    • Radio Suomi
    • YleX
    • YleQ
    • Radio X3M (Swedish)
    • Radio Vega (Swedish)
  • Commercial

See also


  1. ^ Dawn K. Shanks. Start with Finnish. Culture Week, Oct 1st, 2008
  2. ^ The Choir - YL Male Voice Choir
  3. ^ "Finnish music". Finnish Music Information Center. Retrieved September 27, 2005. 
  • Cronshaw, Andrew. "New Runes". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 91–102. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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