Some CircumPolar Music Links

4 March 2005
Inspired by Bryan Alexander's Polar music, a query ("Is there such a thing as contemporary polar music?"), I've done a bit of searching and begun a collection of links that may grow if I continue to explore in this realm. Each item below is just an ear of the hippopotamus, betokening a vast subsurface bulk of mysterious proportions and extent, to say the least. There's the usual Web mixture of academic narrowness of vision, overweening bumptiousness of enthusiasts, and stuff that escapes established categories... but it's worthwhile to start somewhere, and raise some further questions. The sad fact is that there's no place to locate (or store or serve or legitimate) the sound samples we'd need to actually be informative about this topic... but that's a general pedagogical problem in creative 21st century ethnomusicology.

The geography of "CircumPolar" is a bit challenging: surely Saami and Inuit are in, and some of Siberia... but is Tuva in (because, say, of shamanic traditions shared with more northerly Siberian peoples) or out (because too far south?). And I certainly would like to make the case for Iceland and Finland and Sweden and Norway, but a lot of those musics are southward-pointing.

One basis for defining the CircumPolar province (and I'm only half joking...) might be to go with an epidemiological definition and include any area where Seasonal Affective Disorder is a serious problem.


Music from Siberia from Friends of Tuva ("Just about everything you can do with a Jew's harp! Plus Shaman dances, epic poems, animal imitations")
University of Tampere symposium, April 2004
Crossing Borders: Buryat Traditional Music in the Post-Soviet Era By Tristra Newyear
Siberian Arctic: Shamanic & Daily Songs from Buda Musique
MISHA MALTSEV aka DJ NOMAD, DJ ARTLESS Journalist, DJ zurück zu TranceSiberia
Misha Maltsev is very keen to connect his far outpost of humanity to the rest of the world. He is the guiding pen behind the free all-music-all-concept fanzine Nomad, lone DJ on the local Yakutsk radio with his show Oasis devoted "to the ecelctica of music with in-depth coverage to distribute cultural viruses", organiser of multi-media art happening Indikator and a central figure in the annual Tabyk music festival held (almost) every December in the capital, Yakutsk. Misha and everyone working at Tabyk/Nomad act as the only contact for North-Siberian and far-eastern folk music activities in the world. By the way, that's far-eastern in the Russian sense, meaning Kamchatka and beyond, not the beautiful balmy Bali or ordinary old Osaka...
IF Tuva is "in" (and not too far south), then Sainkho Namtchlyak is an important addition
Improvised Music and Siberian Shamanism (Tim Hodgkinson)
On Efenstor and Elel' Shamanic symphonic folk metal/new age band from Krasnoyarsk, Central Siberia
ASKOLD MUROV (1928-1996)


Inukshuk Productions Inc.<>/a> "The #1 Inuit Label in North America" array
Inuit Accordion Music-A Better Kept Secret (pdf)
Rough Guides: Greenland

7 March
For Polar imagery in popular consciousness, consider Harry Reser and the Clicquot Club Eskimos, active 1925-1935 (a larger picture --and see more on 'Eskimo' imagery in marketing of the beverage)

Smithsonian Folkways tracks from

Icelandic Music