Saarijärvi kantele and 10–15-string kantele get new playing guides


Finnish Folk Music Institute celebrates its 50th anniversary and the legendary kantele player Martti Pokela's 100th birthday with two highly anticipated kantele playing guides. Saarijärven kanteleen soitto-opas (”A guide to playing Saarijärvi kantele”) and Kanteleen pyörtehissä – 10–15-kielisten kanteleiden soitto-opas (”In the swirls of kantele – a guide to playing 10–15-string kanteles”) will be published on Friday 3.5. in Jyväskylä, in connection with the opening ceremony of the International Kantele Competition.

The Saarijärvi kantele is characterised by hitting the strings most often with a wooden stick instead of plucking with fingers. The tradition, rescued from oblivion in the last moments, has lived its new heyday since the 1980s, one point of culmination being the Nordic Council Music Prize 2023 granted to Maija Kauhanen, the instrument's most famous ambassador of the moment.

The pioneering Saarijärvi kantele guide is the first of its kind. The authors Pauliina Syrjälä, Senni Heiskanen, Kati Rantala, Hanna Ryynänen and Jenni Venäläinen have devoted themselves to the instrument as pedagogues, scholars and artists both as solo performers and in various ensembles.

The guide takes the user through Saarijärvi kantele's playing styles and techniques. The almost sixty tunes included in the guide consist of traditional Finnish compositions, some pieces from neighbouring countries as well as specially composed new works, by Maija Kauhanen among others. The notes are labelled with clear and illustrative symbols indicating the playing techniques used, and each note include a diagram showing the finger positions. There’s several versions of many pieces and also six ensemble arrangements.

The 10–15 string kantele guide by Anu Alviola and Aurora Visa, kantele pedagogues and experienced teachers, is a new technique and repertoire guide to the world of 10- and 15-string kanteles, popular melody and accompaniment instruments whose larger number of strings allows for more versatile music-making than the 5-string kantele. However, many pieces on the guide are also playable with 5-string kantele.

The guide introduces the basic playing techniques from chord playing to plucking, mixed style playing and joint melody and accompaniment playing. The suitability of the piece for different skill levels and different types of kantele are indicated with symbols, and clear finger position diagrams are included. The more than a hundred pieces in the guide include alse new repertoire composed and arranged for 10 and 15-string kantele. Both guides are written in Finnish.

Saarijärven kanteleen soitto-opas. KIJ118. 144 pages, lay flat -paperback. Buy online.

Kanteleen pyörtehissä – 10- ja 15-kielisten kanteleiden soitto-opas. KIJ119. 136 pages, lay flat -paperback. Buy online