Kaustinen fiddle playing and related practices and expressions


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Inscribed in 2021 (16.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Finnish Folk Music Institute, 2020

Kaustinen folk music is a Finnish tradition where the fiddle (violin), although not the only instrument, is the main melodic instrument. It is in fact the violin (with or without other instruments) that cadences the dances or the songs. Based on playing by ear, it is characterized by syncopated and accented rhythms that are easy for people to dance to. The distinctive style and playing technique of Kaustinen folk music have existed for over 250 years, and there is a repertoire of several hundred tunes from the area. Kaustinen folk music is played in many contexts: in private, in organized groups, during public celebrations and ceremonies (including wedding parties), at concerts and public jam sessions, and at the annual Kaustinen Folk Music Festival. Performers often wear traditional costumes. Most inhabitants of Kaustinen and neighbouring communities consider this music an essential aspect of their personal and community identity, even if they are not practitioners themselves. It is felt to represent a sense of belonging and viewed as a means of strengthening cross-generational ties. The significance of the practice is evident in the names of public spaces and in symbols such as the presence of the fiddle in the Kaustinen coat of arms.