Music Review: “Váibmosat,” Eva Jeanette

Eva Jeanette’s album Váibmosat debuted in 2012. Eva Jeanette is a Sami from Karasjok, Norway, and she sings in her native Sami tongue. Váibmosat (Til Ditt Hjerte in Norwegian) roughly translates to “To Your Heart” in English, and it is a collection of songs of praise.

Eva Jeanette is a Christian Sami singer. Most of the songs on this album are slow and prayerful – hymns of meditation rather than upbeat “praise and worship” songs that are common in the Christian music genre. Her voice is strong and clear – perfect for carrying songs with a solo voice.

Unlike many Sami singers, Eva Jeanette features very little of the joik, the traditional Sami style of chanting/singing, on this album. Instead she opts for more familiar Norwegian hymns, but sung in the Sami language. “Mu Váibmu Vádjol Doppe” – or “Mitt Hjerte Alltid Vanker” – is a well-known Norwegian song. I had heard that song in both Norwegian and Sami before hearing Eva Jeanette’s version, which I very much enjoyed – a slow, rhythmic song with a long instrumental segment at the end.

The song “Visot Buvttán Jesus Ovdii” I have heard in English as “I Surrender All,” a popular worship song at many a church or gathering. It was the only song besides “Mu Váibmu Vádjol Doppe” that I recognized, but I didn’t choose this album because I wanted something familiar.

I wanted to discover new music, new talent, and a beautiful new sound, and that’s exactly what I found in Eva Jeanette’s songs. Whether you’re looking for modern Christian music for an international audience, or you’re looking for new Scandinavian or Sami music, “Váibmosat” is definitely worth a listen.

Eva Jeanette’s Facebook page

Ovtta Almmála Báikki Mun Dieðán

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Music to Write By – A Winter Playlist

I enjoy the dark cold days of January and February. Often the pace of life seems to slow as the sun goes down, leaving longer hours of meditative quiet. But the days don’t have to be dark or depressing, especially with music to lift the soul and brighten the mind.

Like a first snow, story ideas come dancing towards me during the dark winter days

In winter, I dream of frozen forests, snowy tundras, and far-off places

What are some songs on your winter playlist?

Borrowed Words, part 2

I wrote a post some time back that featured so-called “borrowed words” – words that have become common in English, yet still retain their original spelling/meaning/pronunciation (some words more so than others). Every language has borrowed words, not just English, especially in today’s global village life. For example, how many languages use terms like “computer” and “tee shirt” as they are instead of translating the actual meaning?

So here are a few more words that you’ve probably heard and used in your speaking or writing of English – but they’re not actually English words at all.

Smorgasbord – a large spread of a variety of foods. This term often is used in a more metaphorical sense to describe an array of anything that features great diversity or variety – like, say, a smorgasbord of entertainment available at a county fair. The word is spelled Smörgåsbord in its native Sweden, and specifically describes a buffet-like arrangement of cold foods.

Cuisine – another foodie word here, which basically means “the art of cooking.” It’s a French word (like so many food words are, actually – buffet, gourmet). Cuisine usually refers to the specific types of food and preparation styles associated with a regional area or culture.

Tsunami – a big ocean wave, of the sort that causes devastation on land. Sometimes it’s called a tidal wave, but most people use the Japanese word tsunami.

Tundra – an arctic landscape of rolling hills and treeless vegetation. Alpine tundra refers to a similarly cold and harsh landscape high the mountains where it’s too cold for trees to grow. The word comes from the Sami languages of northern Scandinavia and north-western Russia, and it means “uplands” or “treeless plain.”

Boondocks – in American English it means a remote place, like your uncle’s farm out in the middle of nowhere. American soldiers in the Philippines brought this Tagalog word into English. Bundok means “mountain” in Tagalog.

Opossum – a small marsupial common to the Americas, especially the North American east coast region. If you’re from a country that doesn’t have opossums, consider yourself lucky. Personally, I find them to be creepy creatures – they look like giant rats, and are notoriously slow to get out of the road. The name of this animal comes from the Virginia Algonquian language of the Powhatan Native Americans.

So there you have it – more English words that aren’t English at all. What are some other borrowed words?

Music to Write By – My Current Playlist

Right now I’m more in editing (and rewriting) mode in my work than I am first-draft writing. But no matter what I’m writing, music is my tool for getting me out of daily life mode and into composing and storytelling mode.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been listening to lately:

AOMusic – Edge Walkers

Nothing like soothing instrumental music when I just want to let my mind relax. To properly brainstorm, I find that I need to be relaxed–or, at least, not all mentally involved in or stressed about something. The music of AO never fails to pull my mind into the music, and, by extension, pull me into the worlds I’m creating.

Gjallarhorn – Suvetar 

Since I’m writing a story that’s loosely inspired by the legends of Finland, it’s almost necessary that I listen to Finnish folk music and/or songs about their mythology. Besides, it’s a cool music video.

Ulla Pirttijärvi – Mattharaku askai

The Sami people of arctic Finland are important players in my story, so I use their music for both research and for inspiration. Ulla’s songs are some of my favorites.

The Two Towers – The Riders of Rohan 

High fantasy, dramatic battles, and the Viking-like people of Rohan – what’s not inspirational about this track from Lord of the Rings? Specifically, though, Howard Shore’s amazing score (all of it – not just this track) plain gets me excited about storytelling.

Eivør – Min Modir (My Mother)

Besides the fact that Eivør makes it onto almost any “music favorites” or “currently playing” list, the tribal arrangement of this song is powerful and empowering. Eivør’s voice is otherworldly, and always puts me in a writing frame of mind.

Valravn – Marsk

More instrumental music, this time with a primitive and folk-ish sound. Perfect for conjuring up images of people and places in my fantasy world.

What’s on your current writing playlist?

Music Review: “Dobbelis,” Máddji

Since I love music almost as much as I love books and writing, I’ve decided to do another music review. This time I’m writing about Dobbelis (Beyond), the first release by Norwegian Sami singer Máddji (full name Ánne Máddji Heatta).

Máddji and her music come from Guovdageaidnu (also called Kautokeino), a town in northern Norway. Máddji is a Sami—the indigenous people group of this arctic area. All of the songs on Dobbelis are in her native language of Northern Sami.

Musically, the influences of other famous Sami singers like Mari Boine and Ulla Pirttijärvi can be heard; but Máddji’s songs are not a copy of any of them. She brings a unique amalgam of new age, tribal, and even a hint of jazz to the world of Sami folk and rock music.

Songs like “Cihkosis” (Hidden) and “Guhkki” (Far) have the hypnotic quality of the spoken word to accompany the singing. Equally hypnotic is “Iđitguovssu” (Dawn Light)—Máddji’s clear, breathy voice floats through this trance-like song, punctuated by distant and haunting percussion.

For those who prefer songs with more energy, there’s “Idjarávga” (Night Creature) and “Stállu.” The title song “Dobbelis” (Beyond), while also upbeat, still has Máddji’s voice wandering through like an ethereal wind from her homeland.

Sami yoik—a traditional wordless chanting—dominates much of the album, especially evident in songs like “Báru Luohti” (Yoik of the Waves) and “Ovllá Niillas.”

“Idjarávga” gives Máddji an opportunity to show another aspect of Sami yoik—the mimicking of animal sounds. The imitation of a wolf howling is unmistakable , threading in and out through the background of the song.

I’ve used a lot of tracks from this album as inspiration/mood music for my writing, and I look forward to hearing more from Máddji in the future.

I would highly recommend this album to anyone who is fan of Mari Boine or similar music. And if you haven’t even heard of any Sami musicians but are looking for something new, then Dobbelis might just be the thing for you. Give it a listen!

Máddji’s site: www.myspace.com/maddji

Máddji – “Guhkki”

The Awesome Idea

Everything that’s ever been created or ever will be created starts with a thought.

Sometimes this idea starts like a tiny seed—just one small unassuming thought that grows and develops into a full-blown Awesome Idea.

Other times, the Awesome Idea hits full grown and the one doing the thinking is bowled over by the intensity of the beginning, middle, end, and solution all wrapped up in one package all at once.

I’ve had story ideas come to me both ways. Sometimes I’m inspired to write because I get the whole plot—or at least the rough outline—all at once. Even this full-grown Awesome Idea gets built upon, of course, as I write it down. (I have yet to think up a whole story—complete with every word in place, dialogue tags done, no mistakes—without actually writing it down first. Now that would be an Awesome Idea indeed).

But usually, the Awesome Idea for a story comes to me in bits and pieces, and I have a lot of work to do before I have something that’s concrete enough to even begin writing it down. A character, a loose concept, one word or one line, an image or a musical phrase that captures my mind—these little disconnected flitting thoughts are usually what I begin with. Then comes brainstorming, building, experimenting with combining two or more of these disconnected ideas to see if they could gel together to begin growing into the Awesome Idea.

For my current project, I can actually trace the Awesome Idea that is the trilogy I’m writing (hopefully it’s awesome!) to one exact moment, one specific kernel of an idea. It’s grown and changed, of course, and went from a stand-alone book to a trilogy. The setting moved from Russia to Finland, and my one main character was joined by a sizable supporting cast.

But it all began when I was watching a movie called Kautokeino-Opprøret (a Norwegian film; the title translates as The Kautokeino Rebellion). The movie is based on the true story of a revolt by indigenous Sami people against the encroaching government, in a remote village in Norway in the 19th century. There’s one scene where the Sami are combining their separate herds of reindeer into one giant herd, to prevent one particular woman’s reindeer from being taken by the government in payment for a fine.

A line popped into my head: what if an entire herd of reindeer just vanished? And thus was born The Vanished Reindeer, the first novel of my trilogy. I then enhanced that core of an idea with a small dose of Finnish mythology and a large dose of fantasy.

Just a reminder: I’m talking about the birth of an Awesome Idea. The final product—my novel—has absolutely nothing to do with the Norwegian movie, is not based on a true story, and is not intended to be a commentary about indigenous peoples or governments. But that’s where it started.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Writers, artists, musicians, and creators out there—how do your Awesome Ideas develop?

Music video/trailer for Kautokeino-Opprøret, music by Sami singer Mari Boine: