The later years I have met more and more people who are interested in joiking. Both Sami people and daža (non-samis) want to learn and know more about what joiking is and how to do it. Alot of them have told me their experiences with joiking, how they use it, and how much they want to learn it.
Read about joiking here.
I am realizing that a lot of non-Sami people are actually using the joik as it is meant to be used.
What I realized when I started to truly learn joiking around five years ago, is that learning joik is not to learn only a technique, or a new skill. It lead me to learn more about the history of the Sami people, the history of joiking, what is truly was and is, and what makes it so special. It was learning about a lifestyle. I would compare it to learning any old teachings – like karate, or yoga. Its not all about the actual physical execution, it is also about the idea, the background, culture, origination, surroundings, the derivation of it, – how it come to be. So when I started joiking, I felt like I was representing the whole history of the Sami people in a whole new way than before, when I was only singing.
Can anybody joik?
Physically it is possible for everybody to learn to joik. There are no physical restrictions in general.
There is a show on Norwegian TV where famous norwegian singers are learning to joik called “Muitte Mu“. They get a few days with a Sami joiker, and in those days they make a joik to perform on the last day. In the Sami community there have been alot of discussions about wheter or not it is acceptable to teach non-Samis how to joik. And there are alot of opinions on this, but the Sami TV-station NRK Sápmi are co-producing this program, and they feel – as many sami people do, including me – that the more knowledge is spread about the Sami people, the better.
I also feel that if anyone is interested in learning to joik, I think they should feel free to try. And in a TV-show like this they will get real competent Sami teachers to help them, and they get to come to Sàpmi and experience the land. Also I think it is good that non-samis to try it, and they can see for themselves how complex the joik is, and spread their knowledge about it. Joiking is a much more “advanced” way of musicality than many think. Alot of sami composers agree on that joiking is more complex than western music is able to convey.
In my own opinion is that very few of the singers on the show are able to learn joiking in 3 days. Maybe some of them feel like they have accomplished the task in a way, but I would mainly not call what they do joiking. I actually think that if anyone can learn how to joik in 3 days they are superhumans of some sort.. So taking that into consideration, and think of the show more as learning “the understanding of joik“, then yes, they all do it well on the show. Most of the participants show a deep understanding of the task, and do their best in the performance.
Are you thinking of learning to joik?
If you are not Sami, and you want to learn joiking, I invite you to first ask yourself: Why is it that you want to joik? What is it that is missing in you that makes you want to incorporate a “foreign” culture into your own? Maybe it is the connection to nature and the authentic ancient expression. Do you feel a deep drawing towards it. That it resonates with something in you? I have noticed that foreign people who are learning about Sami culture often are looking for exactly for that pureness of expression that joiking has. And meeting these people has made me more aware and conscious about it.
Other reasons could be that you think it is interesting, and you think it is fun to learn new skills. Also valid reasons to learn it.
When you have asked yourself why it is you want to learn it, then you will be able to decide if you are doing it for the right reasons, and if it is ok for you to do it.
The most important thing is to always do it with respect.
The joik has many different purposes, and occasions and reasons to joik vary a lot.
After experiences and conversations with Samis and non-Samis I realize that joiking and Sami music are quite often used for meditation purposes. This is fantastic, and I am really happy that people all over the world benefit from sami music this way!
If you are alone in nature or at your house or wherever in private- and you feel like joiking for the purpose of coming closer to nature, to yourself, to ground yourself or to enter meditative state, to honor gods, feelings and people or anything similar – I would absolutely encourage you to do so.
You are not being disrespectful to the Sami gods if you do this. In contrary – I think you are honoring them – as long as the joik is coming from a respectful place in you. A joik is always the right thing to do to honor someone, so I think it is a really good idea to joik in those occasions.
But another thing is to step on stage, perform a joik, and call this a sami traditional way of joiking. If you do this, then you must be sure that you know what you are talking about, that you are respecting the Sami culture, that you have done your research and history-lessons, like I was mentioning earlier. Because the moment you go public, you might be asked questions you are not prepared to answer.
But for yourself, in your own privacy, you can do whatever you want, and as long as you have respect and good intentions with it.
I encourage you to learn joiking as it is a blessing to have in life. At the moment I am working on a joiking workshop, and when I am ready to launch it I will announce it first on the mailing list, so be sure to sign up if you are interested.
Have fun experimenting!
Are you non-sami who wants to learn to joik? Why do you want to learn it? Do you think it is ok for non-Sami people to joik? What do you use joik for?