Suomi Folk Music: The Sound of Finland

Finland is renowned for its folk music, which has been passed down through the generations. The sound of Finland is unique and beautiful, and it is something that everyone should experience.

Origins of Suomi Folk Music

Folk music from Finland, or Suomi folk music, has origins dating back thousands of years. The first people to populate the region now known as Finland were the Suomi, who arrived around 7,500 BC. These people were hunters and gatherers who made music using natural objects like rocks, sticks, and leaves.

The Kalevala and Suomi Folk Music

Suomi folk music has its origins in the national epic, the Kalevala. This ancient poem, written down in the 19th century by Elias Lönnrot, is a collection of folk tales and songs that were passed down orally for generations. The Kalevala is an important part of Finnish culture and identity, and its influence can be heard in many forms of Suomi folk music.

The Kalevala tells the story of the creation of the world and the first humans, and contains a wealth of traditional Finnish folklore. Many of the songs and tales included in the epic are still performed today, often with little or no changes. This oral tradition means that Suomi folk music is constantly evolving, as new generations add their own interpretation to the old stories.

The most popular instrument in Suomi folk music is the kantele, a type of zither with up to 38 strings. The kantele is thought to have originated in Finland, and it features prominently in many traditional songs and tales. Other common instruments include the jouhikko (a bowed lyre), the torvi (a trumpet-like horn), and various percussion instruments such as drums and bells.

Today, Suomi folk music is enjoyed by people all over the world. It has been adapted and performed by artists from many different cultures, including Finland’s ownclaim to international fame, Jari Sillanpää. Whether you’re listening to a traditional performance or a modern interpretation, Suomi folk music is sure to transport you to another time and place.

The Finnish Civil War and Suomi Folk Music

The Finnish Civil War was fought from 27 January to 15 May 1918 between the Reds, led by the Social Democratic Party, and the Whites, led by the non-socialist, conservative-led Senate. The war ended with the victory of the White Army. Around 37,000 Reds and 26,000 Whites died in the conflict.

Characteristics of Suomi Folk Music

Suomi folk music has a unique sound that is a mix of Finnish and Swedish influences. The music is usually played on the kantele, a type of zither, and sometimes on the fiddle or accordion. The lyrics are often about nature, love, and loss.


Finnish folk music is known for its beautiful melodies. The tunes are often played on the kantele, a Finnish stringed instrument. Kantele music is said to be some of the most beautiful and haunting music in the world. Many of the melodies are passed down from generation to generation, and some of them are hundreds of years old.

Finnish folk music is also known for its intricate rhythms. Percussion instruments such as the jouhikko (a Finnish bowed instrument) and the frame drums are used to create complex rhythms that drive the music forward. This type of music is often used for dancing, and it is not uncommon for people to dance for hours at a time to traditional Finnish folk tunes.


Folk music from Finland is known for its unique sound, which is a mixture of Scandinavian, Russian, and Baltic influences. The lyrics of Finnish folk songs are often based on traditional Finnish folklore, and the music often has a light and cheerful feel. Finnish folk music is also renowned for its use of the kantele, a traditional stringed instrument that produces a beautiful and haunting sound.


Folk music from Finland is typically played on four main instruments: the kantele, jouhikko, torvi, and humppa. The kantele is a plucked string instrument with a long history, and it’s thought to be the national instrument of Finland. The jouhikko is a bowed string instrument, and the torvi is a type of horn. The humppa is a popular dance form that’s also the name of the accompanying music, which has a fast tempo and heavy bass.

Notable Suomi Folk Musicians

Finland is known for its rich culture and history, and its music is no exception. Folk music has been a part of the Finnish people for centuries, and it is still very popular today. There are many different types of folk music, but Suomi folk music is one of the most unique and recognizable. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable Suomi folk musicians.

Toivo Kärki

One of the most prolific and well-known Finnish folk musicians of the 20th century was Toivo Kärki. He composed over 500 songs, many of which are still widely known and sung today. Kärki’s best-known compositions include ” Sininen ja valkoinen” (The Blue and the White), ” Jokainen ihminen on arvokas” (Every Person is Valuable), and ” Vain rakkaus voi pelastaa maailman” (Only Love Can Save the World). His songs often had political or social commentary, but were also personal and heartfelt. Kärki’s music was deeply rooted in Finnish culture and tradition, but he also incorporated influences from other genres, such as tango and pop.

Einojuhani Rautavaara

Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016) was a prolific Finnish composer who wrote in a variety of styles, from atonal to tonal, avant-garde to neo-romanticism. His works include operas, symphonies, and piano music, and he is perhaps best known for his choral work Cantus Arcticus. Rautavaara’s music has been described as “mystical”, “ethereal”, and “frozen in time and space”.

Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer who is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of classical music. He is known for his symphonies, concertos, and other orchestral works, as well as numerous pieces for solo piano and other instrumental groups. Sibelius was born in 1865 in Hämeenlinna, Finland, and began studying music at a young age. He composed his first piece at the age of 12, and hisSymfony in D minor received its premiere performance in 1882.

Sibelius’s early works were heavily influenced by the Finnish folk music he grew up listening to. He also took inspiration from other composers such as Richard Wagner and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In the 1890s, Sibelius began to move away from traditional symphonic forms and experiment with new ways of expression. This period saw the composition of some of his most famous works, including the tone poem Finlandia (1899) and the symphonies Nos. 2 (1902) and 5 (1915).

Sibelius’s later years were marked by personal tragedies, including the death of his wife in 1924 and his own battle with alcoholism. He withdrew from public life and composed less frequently. However, he did produce some notable works during this period, such as the suiteThe Frog King (1926) and the incidental music for The Tempest (1926). Sibelius died in 1957 at the age of 91.


In conclusion, Suomi Folk Music is a representation of the Finnish people and their culture. The music is rich and varied, with something to offer everyone. From the traditional sounds of the kantele to the more modern takes on folk music, there is something for everyone in this genre. So if you’re ever in the mood for some truly unique and beautiful music, be sure to give Suomi Folk Music a try.

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