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Yoiking is a form of singing found across Sami culture in northern Scandinavian countries, that for many years was actively suppressed by Christianity. Yoiking survived by being a musical form that didn't depend on audience: traditional yoiking is private and reflective.

But yoiking has adapted and is now found in many contemporary settings, as in the example below. Krister Stoor is a Sami scholar and yoik singer, singing The Rat Yoik here in a way that blends with folk and jazz improv.

YOUTUBE 70zW5l6TT7o (double-click to edit caption)

Conceptually, yoiking isn't a performance for the approval of others. It's intense and quite intimate practice of recall. The yoik singer doesn't sing about a person, animal or place; but yoiks the person, animal or place directly. So it is more of an invocation than a story.

Relevance to SFW is that the yoik does not belong to the author or performer in the way that Western music does, but is shared and continuously adapted: unfinished work.

Kathryn Burke's essay on "The Sami Yoik" has links to musical samples, and substantial background, including the quote below, taken from Harald Gaski's "The Secretive Text".


It is not the one who composes a yoik who owns it, but rather that which is yoiked. To no greater or lesser extent is the producer, in this sense, loses the right to his or her product, while the subject assumes dominion over this same creation. This the traditional role of art in a culture in which the central focus is on collectivity, not in the sense that the individual owns nothing, but rather in the respect that a perceived solidarity is what actually holds the culture together. In such a society, an artist is not simply an individual; she or he is also a representative of the entire culture, one element in the distribution of labor within the whole.