In My Heart

The yoik is an important element of Lapp culture

The Yoik

The yoik is the traditional sami music - the Sami musical expression. It is a Lapp song tradition that is still in use. It is revitalized and is the basis for the modern Sami musical expressions. It is used to characterize people, animals and nature - or to tell a story.

The rythm and the melody are important parts of the yoik. The text is often short, repetitive and packed with meaning and understatements.

The melody of a yoik is quite simple and is held in a pentatone scale.

Yoiking somebody

The person who is the theme of a yoik, is created through the mood and atmosphere of the tune and the pictures of the person that the creator and performer of the yoik is able to produce. You don't yoik about someone or something. You joik the person or the object or the animal.

In the pre-Christian era

the yoik was an important part of religious ceremonies. It was accompanied by the rythms of the shamans drum and it was used by the shaman (noaidi) to get into trance.

This is the reason why the yoik was considered a great sin when the Christian belief came to Lapland. Some people even today look upon the yoik as sinful and incompatible with a Christian way of life.

In the 1600s the yoik was forbidden by law. Those who still used it, were punished. The result was that the yoik was no longer used in public. But it survived. For a long time, though, yoikers were careful not to provoke the church and the authorities.


Read more about the yoik

The University of Helsinki has gathered many traditional yoiks from different parts of Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish Lapland. Click here to listen to lapp traditional yoiks.

And what about listening to three outstanding contemporary Lapp artists representing Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish Lapland.

Go back to Lapp culture page.

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