Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Far North

Sami writer Karin Stenberg
11" x 8.5", 2013
watercolor, pen, pencil on paper
There haven't been too many traditional songs from Scandinavia in the Top 100 and thus I haven't painted too many folk costumes either. After painting this Siberian Chukchi shaman last year, this is only the second time I recall painting a fur coat. But the Karin Stenberg depicted here is not a musician, she's an early 20th century Sami author, she may be related to the Karin Stenberg that sings a joik about reindeer half a century later, I don't know. But what I know is that there wasn't a picture available of the Karin Stenberg who sings three tracks on the LP Music From the Far North to paint from. There are pictures on the booklet in the album, but she's not on it. Whose picture is on it though, is the Finnish kantele player Juho Kareinen, a picture all too familiar. In 2007 I painted an anonymous kantele player to illustrate a 1930s kantele recording by Ulla Kantajavouri, and now that anonymous musicians is no longer anonymous any more. Since 2007 was before I started this blog I'll attach a picture of that painting below. Music From the Far North, that I bought last year, is by far the most interesting LP of the 10 or 12 I have dedicated to Scandinavian traditional music. On Musical Thrift Store Treasures I dedicated a page to this album. You can listen there to Stenberg's joik too. The following is what I had to say about it.
They're not quite the true academic field recording records, but much more authentic than the Souvenir from... records tourists used to gather. They're field recordings that are sold commercially. They're an important part of my record collection which is becoming more and more like a stamp collection that doesn't have a topic but holds stamps from all over the world. A collection that's more about diversity than about depth. Records like the one above were owned by people that had a serious interest in some geographical entity, not quite an academic interest but certainly well beyond a tourist's interest in the music of a region. They're records of traditional music, typically played not by the areas biggest stars, but not by the remote and isolated rural population either. The musicians are the in-between musicians, semi-professional, well regarded locally, that would perform in regional cultural festivals. Music from the Far North features traditional music out of Finland and from Sweden. It features the solemn Finnish music on the kantele, and some wild fiddling gatherings from Sweden. There's enough excitement in the music on this record to last a midsummer night but my pick of the litter is a Lappish joiks that is featured at the end of the record. They're not the most interesting joiks I've ever heard, they're not the best tracks on the record, but they're joiks. There aren't that many joik recordings in the world. Joiks are the age old musical singing traditions of the Sami people of Northern Scandinavia. The singing sounds a lot like the chanting of Native Americans. The Sami are remote descendents of the Chukchi people, a handful of whom are believed to have crossed the Bering Sea and are the common ancestors of all American Indians.
The singer of the joik featured in the Top 100 is Karin Stenberg. She was recorded by Deben Bhattacharya in or before 1967 in Arvidsjaur, Sweden .

p.s. I've never been to Sweden but I have a Volvo. I learned yesterday that if you buy a new Volvo, directly from the factory, they'll fly you over, put you up, and ship the car back for you. Now my Volvo is getting pretty old...
Juho Kareinen
12" x 8"
oil on wood, 2007

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