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Saami music

The Saami (or Lapp, Laplanders) people live in the northern sections of Finland, Sweden, Norway and the Kola Peninsula (Karelia, Russia. They have long been culturally distinct from neighbors but have strong ties to the related people of Finland.

Traditional Saami music revolves around singing. The only traditional instrument are drums, and purely instrumental music is unknown. Modern bands use a wide variety of instruments, especially the fiddle and accordion.

Improvised, highly spiritual songs called joiks (North Saami: luohti; South Saami: vuolle) are the most characteristic song type. (The same word sometimes refers to lavlu or vuelie songs, though this is technically incorrect.) Joiks do not rhyme, and have no definite structure. They are typically about any subject of importance to the singer, and vary widely in content. Purely folk joiks have declined in popularity over the 20th century, due to the influence of pop radio and religious fundamentalism, especially Laestadianism. Nevertheless, joik performers of some fame include Wimme Saari and Nils-Aslak Valkeapäauml; many modern singers are signed to DAT, the premier record label in Saami music.

The most famous Saami singer is undoubtedly Mari Boine of Norway, who sings a type of minimalist folk-rock with joik roots. Some non-Saami artists, including Enigma and Jan Barbarek, have used joik and other Saami styles in their music.