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Mari Kalkun on Eesti laulja, laulukirjutaja, ja muusik
August 18, 2013 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Mari Kalkun is an Estonian folk singer. If, after those words, you are still reading, you'll probably like her.

She also plays the 12-string kannel. She is from Võrumaa in the southeast of the country.

On her website there are some Vimeo clips and a playlist of songs taken from her two albums, Vihmakõnõ (Dear Rain) and Üü tulõk (Arrival of the Night). She is on SoundCloud, too, where there are some things she's recorded with her new band Runorun as well as solo songs.

If you read Estonian (and don't already know who she is), here's a link to the Vikipeedia page about her.
posted by lapsangsouchong (14 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aitäh!
posted by penguin pie at 2:55 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is fantastic! Thanks!
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:59 PM on August 18, 2013


Also, sorry for the slight derail, but since there aren't many places where English-speaking fans of Estonian folk music congregate online, maybe this thread is the place to give this a go:

In 1998 I was in Navitrolla's (then new) shop on Raekoja Plats in Tartu, and he had for sale CDs of a Setukoor that had recorded with contemporary Estonian band/musician - almost like dance music meets Setu. I've always regretted not buying it and never been able to track it down since. Anyone have any idea what it was?
posted by penguin pie at 3:07 PM on August 18, 2013


Would I ever have heard this music if not for your post? I doubt it! So thank you - I very much like her voice, and the sound of the kannel.

Google translate tells me kalkun is the Estonian for turkey. Is that a common Estonian surname? Or is it a stage-name?
posted by misteraitch at 3:09 PM on August 18, 2013


I've been loving Mari's album for a couple of years now - such a little treasure to share, and good on you for doing so.
posted by Marquis at 4:24 PM on August 18, 2013


If you read Estonian

This must be the most impenetrable language on earth. Even after living a year immersed in an Estonian household with my then-girlfriend and her family, I understood little beyond a few dozen words and expressions. It was comparatively far less difficult, however, to read their children's books aloud in a dumb, procedural sort of way. My ex of course took great amusement at my "American" accent.

One night, towards the end of my stay, my inner 13th Warrior showed up at a family dinner. As an uncle was speaking fluent Estonian (not scattered with English for my benefit) at the table, I conspicuously nodded along so as to cause him to interject himself with, "So, what, you speak Estonian now?" To which I, aided by context and tone, promptly and accurately translated his sentence, which just so happened to contain nearly every word I knew.




Kiisu means kitty. Kiiiiiiiiiisu!
posted by troll at 5:29 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


^Wrote the above listening to Mari Kalkun. How pleasant this is!
posted by troll at 5:29 PM on August 18, 2013


So apparently this is a musical form based almost entirely in various types of zither and dissonance.

I have absolutely no problem with this.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:50 PM on August 18, 2013


In 1998 I was in Navitrolla's (then new) shop on Raekoja Plats in Tartu, and he had for sale CDs of a Setukoor that had recorded with contemporary Estonian band/musician - almost like dance music meets Setu. I've always regretted not buying it and never been able to track it down since. Anyone have any idea what it was?

I'm relatively sure there have been more than one projects like this, but the only one I can think of right now is Ummaleelo, a collaboration between Leelonaase, a Seto women's choir, and Ummamuudu, a country/folk group rather popular at that time.

Google translate tells me kalkun is the Estonian for turkey. Is that a common Estonian surname? Or is it a stage-name?

It's her real surname, but it's relatively uncommon: I just checked the statistics and was surprised to find that there's only around 50 Estonians with this last name.
posted by daniel_charms at 9:41 PM on August 18, 2013


Vihmakõnõ has been my favorite folk record since that one about an aeroplane. Thanks for the post
posted by dagosto at 10:23 PM on August 18, 2013


This is great! I just forwarded this to my roommate who spent her semester abroad in Tallinn... :)

If you're reading this now, hey Henni! Join MeFi! It's nice in here!
posted by ipsative at 2:23 AM on August 19, 2013


Thanks so much for that link, daniel__charms - I've not had a chance to listen yet, but I'm so excited that this might be it!

lapsangsouchong MeMailed me to ask for any more music recommendations, and once I'd replied, I thought I might as well paste my answer here - it's more of a 'useful background' than a list of recommendations for new music, but might be of interest to anyone who enjoyed Mari Kalkun (with apologies to any Estonians reading this who know better than me):
So... My knowledge is pretty dated - I spent 3 months in Estonia in 1996 singing with a couple of choirs, and went back for the 97/98 academic year to study Estonian, but since then I'm a bit rusty (I went out to do fieldwork for my undergraduate anthropology dissertation, which I wrote about the Estonian choral tradition and national identity...like you do).

So I can certainly give you some background which might be interesting, but feel free to skip this bit!
There's a huge vocal and choral tradition in Estonia, all going back to rural folk songs, which was has been a huge part of their national identity and of the revolution in the early 90s - known as The Singing Revolution - in fact they're just about to celebrate the 25th anniversary.

For many years they've had these incredible song festivals every few years, where about a third of the population all gather together at once and sing folk songs in massive choirs, and do huge, orchestrated folk dances. The two biggest cities, Tallinn and Tartu, have dedicated outdoor stages/stadiums for these events, the Lauluvaljak and Laululava respectively. Here they are singing their national anthem en masse - sends a shiver down my spine.

A lot of this music is choral music based on folk songs, transcribed/adapted/inspiring new works by people like Veljo Tormis.
(Tormis and Arvo Pärt are the biggest names in Estonian music - Pärt is very much classical rather than folk, but if you listen to him you'll hear the same tradition going on of atonal sounds and a lot of vocal music).

Oh, and the music I mentioned my comment (I can't believe someone's given me an answer, so exciting!) was the choral music of Setumaa, right in the South East of Estonia. It's also choral music, often quite repetitive, and I see looking on YouTube for this clip, has been "designated by UNESCO as an item of intangible cultural heritage"!!

So that's all going on in the background of more modern Estonian folk music.

In terms of what to listen to now -
The big folk event each year is the Viljandi Folk Music Festival (Pärimusmuusika Festival)

This year's festival was at the end of July and the programme seems to have lots of links to the performers, which might be a good place to start.

TL;DR - You should listen to Greip! An Estonian friend of mine posted their music video on facebook a while ago and it's fantastic. If you've ploughed through all my ramblings, you'll recognise the influence of the Setu choir.
posted by penguin pie at 5:23 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love MeFi... I never knew I needed to know about Estonian folk music until now. I'm listening to Mari Kalkun, and look forward to working my way down to and through penguin pie's comment and links.

Thanks for the post lapsang!
posted by jaruwaan at 11:31 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks again to daniel_charms - I couldn't get any of those Ummaleelo RealPlayer tracks to play on any of my many devices, or find downloadable/purchasable versions anywhere, but now I have a name I can at least find a few tracks on YouTube, and I'm pretty sure they're the recordings I was after (or if not, they're near enough to make me very happy). This is why MeFi rocks - NO query is too obscure!
posted by penguin pie at 4:16 AM on August 20, 2013


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