This is How Finnish Music Opened My Ears to the World

A young boy with ‘horn hands’ in the air during the Finnish heavy metal festival Tuska in Helsinki’s Suvilahti district on July 2, 2016. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The very first thing we Finnish-Feverers learned to love about Finland was the music.

What is a Finnish Fever?
In Poland, they have a name for people like me – they say we have the Finnish Fever. It’s an interesting kind of disease – spread through contact with an infected individual. It involves love for all things related to Finland. It usually begins with the music.

When asked an old Finnish-Feverer to name a legendary, Finnish song: they will probably utter: “Ievan polkka.”  It’s indeed considered legendary, but a little bit frightening for us non-Finnish-speakers because of its speed!

What did I just listen to?
Ievan Polkka” or “Ievan Polokka” (Savo Finnish for “Eva’s Polka”) is a popular Finnish song with lyrics written in the early 1930s by Eino Kettunen to a traditional Finnish polka tune. The song is sung in very heavy Eastern Savonian dialects spoken in North Karelia. It is fully understandable. It’s about a young man and Ieva/Eva/Eeva in Finnish, who sneak away to where everyone is dancing to a polka, and dance all night.

When asked a Feverer in their 20’s to name a Finnish song, he or she may remember the memorable year of Lordi winning the 51st Eurovision Song Contest with “Hard Rock Hallelujah.” If “Levan polkka” is frightening then there is no word to describe Lordi.

Lordi in a nutshell
Starting out as a shock-rock band in 2002, at least as far as their lyrics and stage presence were concerned, they rose to unprecedented levels of fame after winning the 2006 edition of Eurovision. Lordi are also known for wearing monster masks and using horror elements with pyrotechnics during concerts and music videos. A center square in Rovaniemi, in the hometown of the lead singer Mr Lordi, was renamed after the band shortly after the victory at the Eurovision Song Contest.  After the Eurovision victory, all the members of the line-up at the time got tributes from their hometowns.

Heavy sounds opened the gates to Finland for me. My love was growing to the notes of Teräsbetoni’s “Voiman vartijat” – this music was like rare meat seasoned with steel. I felt voima (power) running through my veins. Maybe it’s the language, maybe it’s the melody, maybe it’s just the vibe – climate?

Teräsbetoni in a nutshell
Teräsbetoni is a Finnish power metal band. Their first album was released in 2005. Teräsbetoni has been strongly influenced by bands such as Manowar. The direct translation of the band’s name is steel concrete, Finnish for reinforced concrete. They are currently on an indefinite hiatus.

An interesting and wonderful thing about this type of music is that it didn’t shut my ears on other kinds of melodies. It didn’t make me a fanatic for one music genre – despite it could have. Instead, it opened me to new experiences and paved the way.

The doors of Finnish music weren’t the entrance to the tunnel, but rather the exit from it.

The time spent listening to Turisas and other folk-metal bands increased my sensitivity. Sensitivity on melody, on orchestral or choir parts, on traditional instruments, and so on.

What is Turisas?
Turisas is a Finnish metal band from Hämeenlinna. They were founded in 1997 and named after an ancient Finnish god of war. Turisas are a folk metal band, incorporating elements of power metal and symphonic metal along with frequent harsh vocals.

That is how heavy sounds lead me to classical music, soundtracks and folk music. The doors of Finnish music weren’t the entrance to the tunnel, but rather the exit from it. It led me to devour Scandinavian and Ugrofinnic folk. In these songs, the listener can feel the deep respect to tradition and ancestors.

In result, if you would ask me about my favorite bands and kinds of music today, It would be hard to make one single choice. Thanks to the diversity of Finnish music, which opened my ears to the world.

 

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