Krister Stoor

This article presents research on the oral narration context and content of Yoik, the traditional Sámi acapella form of singing. The Sámi people are recognized as Indigenous in northern Fennoscandia. Although yoik has been brought into the modern world through combining with music forms such as rap and country, yoik traditionally was created and performed by individuals who imparted their own experiences of people, animals, and places on their narratives. For it to conform to its traditional form, yoik can never be taken out of its original context, because outside of that context the narrative becomes something else, only text, taking on new connections. The word yoik is used as if it were a verb, which comes from the north Sámi word juoigat. To yoik is to express yourself verbally with song or speech; one yoiks a song that is to say a vuolle, vuölle, vuelie, or luohti. The differences between what one calls songs is only geographical. In the Scandinavian languages the word yoik has also become a substantive noun, nominative, one talks about the wolf’s yoik, person’s yoik, and so on. Every individual has its own song, but you cannot create it yourself, it has to be given to you. Animals do, as well, have their own songs. Some sing them with characteristics; you have to be the animal you are describing in the song. Landscape is a third theme that has to be described. Sometimes these themes are intertwined, which is what professor Israel Ruong calls ‘complex yoik’ (Arnberg et al, 1997).

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