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Sattuma weaves a success with Kudelma

"Kudelma" is the work of knitting, or the woven fabric resulting. The new CD cover from the Sattuma family singers pictures a "Finnish" rag rug. I write "Finnish" in quotes because other Scandinavians and nationalities weave similar objects. This cultural sharing is implied by the mixture of Finnish, Russian, Ingrian and other lyrics and tunes on the "Kudelma" CD.

As a listener who is weak in Finnish, I was able to understand most of the written titles of the Finno-Ugrian songs. And I was able to catch a word or two as they were sung, But the Karelian dialect is unique enough to place even a native speaking Finn in almost a similar situation. I appreciate the song track by track explanations given in both Finnish and English inside the CD insert, and I would think the readers who are influent in Finnish would get much more of the meaning if the Ingrian lyrics were fully written out, just as they are sung.

I have to praise the "children" first, Eila Rinne and Vladik Demin, though they are fast becoming a young woman and a young man. These two really sing out! Such voice projection is seldom heard from kids. Both of them are excellent fiddlers, but each plays many more instruments besides the violin. I asked Vladik's father; Dmitry, if this boy and girl had attended a special Russian music school, and he indicated so, though we struggled with a language barrier. The only suggestion I'd make is that they learn to vary their dynamic range, from the most delicate to the most boisterous.

I want to highlight the creativity of Dmitry Demin, who has "invented" some of the musical instruments played by the Sattuma group. "Sattuma" means "happening", but it didn't just happen! Dmitry Demin exercised his ingenuity in rediscovering old or creating new instruments.

They are flutes or whistles, depending on their pitch range and timbre. Made of birch-bark and willow, sometimes two or three are held in hand at one time, ready for their specified notes to sound. Mr.Demin has also taught the other players,and his enthusiasm has spread.

Not only is Arto Rinne an accordion player, not to mention the other instruments he plays, but he is a composer and arranger of at least five of the tunes, by my count. One or two of them sound "old time" in Finnish style, but others have a modern jazz rhythm or bluesy style, or they sound Russian.

Rinne admitted to me he had "just and old accordion" from his father, but he uses it very well! Though the last song is traditional and ancient, "Metsanneidon Suru" ( Sorrow of the Forest Maid) ,Arto Rinne arranged it very sensitively, and his daughter, Eila, hums it very artistically.

John Bispala
The Finnish American Reporter
Hancock, Michigan, USA
October 2005

Editor's note: John Bispala is a lifelong accordion student who lives in Minneapolis.

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