Peurankaataja Pedri ja oman mahdin soitto
Pedri Shemeikan musiikkikulttuurinen perintö tutkija-muusikon näkökulmasta
Pedri Shemeikka’s heritage for musical culture from the perspective of a researcher-musician
This article examines the cultural-historical background and aesthetic-philosophical essence of Karelian 19th-century kantele improvisation through one historical figure, Pedri Shemeikka. I approach the subject from the perspective of a musician-researcher and my main research questions focus on whether and how it is possible to reconstruct and revive a music tradition of which we have only some written documents. This particular tradition was an inseparable part of the ancient runosong culture and was collected among the illiterate Ladoga and Aunus Karelian people who still lived in the slash-and-burn culture that included hunting and fishing as an important part of one’s livelihood. Pedri Shemeikka was a considerable person inside this tradition and at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, he became a symbol of the heroic Väinämöinen for the Finnish intelligentsia.
When explaining their improvised music, the kantele players themselves were talking about ”soittaa omaa mahtia” – playing their own power (with their inner strength and knowledge). The article examines the centuries-old connections between Karelians and the Sámi and the possible connection between kantele players ”own power” and prehistoric shamanism. The end of the article focuses on how the information we have of the instruments, the detailed descriptions of the special plucking technique, the scales, the tuning system, and the aesthetics of the music inside the runosong culture, give us tools to learn and understand the deeper essence of this music and make it available and alive for the people of the twenty-first century.