View Full Version : Kantele

11-03-04, 07:22
I've been reading about the kantele, but it is not clear to me if this instrument was used in Ostrobotnia. If this was not a common instrument in the area, what might have been played instead?

I'm hoping that one of our members/readers will be able to tell me more.

Thank you.

12-03-04, 06:26
Hej Claire,
...but in Ostrobothnia it was also the custom to stop some of the strings with one hand while allowing the others to sound"

This appears to be the most authoritative site for kantele. I really like it and it points out the fact that Väinämöinen himself made the first one, long before Red Green appeared with his secret weapon.
Chuck :)


12-03-04, 16:14
Thank you, granskare!

That is an excellent site.:)

A-M Löfdahl
12-03-04, 18:46
Yes, it is an excellent site, but please remember that finnish and "finnishswedish" (finlandssvensk) folk music and tradition is not the same.

Kantele was not a common instrument in swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia. Here the fiddle was the most important instrument.
The Jew´s harp and the clarinet has also been used in folkmusic.

If you want to contact Finlands svenska folkmusikinstitut www.folkmusikinstitut.org (http://www.folkmusikinstitut.org) they are able to answer all your questions about "finlandssvensk folkmusik"


12-03-04, 19:00
Here's an interesting combo of kantele with some other instruments. The website says these guys went to Åland and did performances so the instrument is making a comeback of sorts.
I would agree that fiddle would be prominent amongst Swede-Finns because it's one of the great musical instruments in folk music and very strong here in America also.
So if you load this website, listen to their very modern renditions. Modern song titles certainly:)



13-03-04, 02:35
Thank you, Ann-Marie and Chuck:

The sites are most interesting.

I was curious about the music of the Swede-Finns as my Swede-Finn grandparents were not of a musical background. My grandmother loved music and loved to dance and my father was apparently quite a singer as a young boy. However, no one in the family played an instrument of any kind.

When I was a girl, a Vancouver, British Columbia radio station would broadcast a special programme once each week which began with "It's Scandinavia time!". My grandmother listened to this broadcast faithfully and loved it dearly. I remember that there seemed to be a lot of accordion playing but I don't remember what other instruments were used.

I have since married into a rather musical family. My husband and I see it in our own two children - they sing beautifully and play instruments as well. (Our oldest daughter, soon to be 17, is also a clarinetist, Ann-Marie!)

I was able to play the last of the three clips, Chuck. It is quite delightful to hear the contempory use of traditional music. I know that I must continue to find out more as music is such an important element of a culture.

Thanks again to you both for the sites and the excellent information.

Hasse Andtbacka
13-03-04, 05:28
Hi Claire,

I lead a brass band here in Kronoby. The orchestra will be 120 years young next year, so our music can be called traditional.

Please visit the band's website:



13-03-04, 06:38
Hello Hasse:

Thank you for the link. I enjoyed reading about your band. The sound clips were most enjoyable.

I was surprised to learn that Finland had a prohibition - I had no idea! I was also surprised to read of a connection to Germany.

I must tell you that I had to buy a good atlas to keep beside my computer because of the Finlander Forum. I had a difficult time to find a map of Finland that was useful to me. When I finally found an atlas that showed me where Korsnas was, I bought it! I thought that if it showed me the little place where my grandmother came from then it must be a good atlas! So I now know where Kronoby is too.

Again, thank you.

13-03-04, 07:58
Tack så mycket Hasse!

Wonderful and now I am hearing my second tune:)
My grandson plays brass - he played sousaphone in his high school marching band and also does tuba and the other brass.
What instruments do you play?
Ah, emigrant song comes up. Hmm, the other Hasse ought to get a midi file of this song for the pages of sfhs forum!

Hasse Andtbacka
13-03-04, 20:52
Glad you like the music :D

You'll get a CD for free, if you pick it up here in Kronoby ;-)


13-03-04, 21:01
Hej Hasse,
Next time I am in Finland, I shall stop by with that in mind.
Great incentive to visit Finland again.

Thanks again for posting the website!


June Pelo
13-03-04, 21:47
I had written Claire about Kantele Kreeta (Kreeta Haapasalo) who was a known kantele player in Finland in the mid 1800s. She was Margreta Jacobsdotter Järvilä, b. 1815 in Vetil, d. 1892, married to Jonas Haapasalo. Here's a picture of Kreeta playing her kantele, with one of her grandsons.


13-03-04, 23:39
Glad to see you back on the Forum! :) We've missed you!

I knew you'd have some good info on Kreeta! ;)

June Pelo
14-03-04, 00:24
Thanks, Kevin. It's good to be back online. I should have added a little more about Kreeta Haapasalo:
RE: Kreeta Haapasalo:
"Court artist R. W. Ekman has immortalized her on three canvases. The most well-known picture of her is one by Arvid Liljelund in Tusby - a painted portrait where Kreeta stands at a window singing and playing and one of her small grandsons sits and listens. Probably all of the older people in Finland know which picture is represented. The picture is her life in all simplicity.

In 1954 a statue was erected in her memory in Kaustby with Ilmari Wirkkala as a prime sponsor. Another monument was erected at her homeplace in Vetil. In the early 1990's Finland honored her and five other women on postage stamps." I am fortunate to have a set of the postage stamps honoring Kreeta. I have also written an article about her which can be found in my series of articles on the SFHS website.


14-03-04, 01:57
Thank you, June:

Once again you give us more information that we could ever expect. I continue to be amazed at all the topics you are able to discuss.
I hope all is going well for you and your family.

June Pelo
14-03-04, 18:08

Thank you for your kind remarks. My data has been accumulating for over 30 years and will soon crowd me out of my house! I'm glad that I now have my computer repaired and I've moved my sister into my home so I can take care of her. She's getting stronger but it is a slow process.


14-03-04, 18:56
Originally posted by Claire
I remember that there seemed to be a lot of accordion playing ...

The accordion was and is an important instrument in Finnish and Swedish Finnish folkmusic.

In Ostrobothnia religious people who considered profane music and dancing a sin called the accordion "syndaskrytto" in dialect. It translates roughly to "sinner's wrinkles".

In Finnish "pirun palkeet" is a well known saying. I.e. "devil's bellows".

When the early accordions came into the picture, I think in mid 19th century, they must have been a marvel. The "high tech" of that time. And like all novelties they were met with suspicion among the cautious and conservative.


22-03-04, 18:28
What about some of the other instruments like accordion and guitar, mandolin, flute or whistle? I hear them in some of the CD's. My wife enjoy playing music from all the Scandinavian areas and use these instruments, but wonder the aunthenticity. Also wonder about sources of printed music.

29-03-04, 08:15
Last Saturday my wife and I attended a funeral in the municipality of Borgnäs/Pornainen north of Borgå in Nyland. Here we also had the possibility to listen to girls from the local Kantele group "Brelo" - a magnificent performance. Young girls using their instruments really professionally! Earlier this morning I learned that the girls were daughters of Finlander member Jorma Kohonen! Jorma can be proud of his girls!

The group is recording their first CD later this Spring. Last July the enlarged group performed at several locations in the US link in Finnish (http://www.nuorisoseurat.fi/seurasivu130.html)

The group depicted: