Ever since the Neolithic era, Finland has been culturally divided between the western and eastern cultural areas. The division started with the expansion of the Indo-European “Boat-axe” or “Rope-ceramic” culture, which brought with it agriculture and cattle, driving the earlier hunter-gatherers called the “Comb-ceramic” east- and northwards. The newcomers settled in the areas that were best suited for farming, southwest of the line which can even today be seen as the dividing line between the Eastern and Western Finnish cultural areas. The division can still be seen in dialects, everyday habits of different kinds, and music.

The music group Tulikoira, consisting now of Helka Ermala, Yrjänä Ermala, Patrik Weckman and Antti Saarinen, performs folksongs rarely sung nowadays. As the Eastern Finnish music is usually well covered by other musicians, Tulikoira tends to be a balancing counterpart, and concentrates on the Western Finnish traditions – including the newer layers of vocal music and ballad variants which are often related to ballads elsewhere in Northern Europe.

Tulikoira at the NHM 2013 (photo: Erik Ask-Upmark)

an earlier version of Tulikoira at the Nordic Harp Meeting 2013 (photo: Erik Ask-Upmark)

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