Arja Kastinen, doctor of Music examination in the artistic study programme at the Sibelius Academy in December 2000. The examination included five concerts (“Music based on the ideology and the acoustical phenomena of the kantele in the Karelian kantele improvisation”) and a written dissertation (“An Acoustical investigation of a 15-stringed kantele”).
Four solo albums (+ one supplement CD for a book) and three collaboration albums. Teaching and performing in Finland for about 25 years. Performings outside Finland in Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, Ireland, Serbia, USA, Kanada, Russia and Vietnam. Researching the features of old kanteleinstruments and especially the old bronze and brass string material since 2008.
One Hundred Years of Beauty Sleep
The kantele is a Finnish version of an ancient zither-like instrument, known generically as the Baltic psaltery. Traditionally the instrument holds a strong symbolic significance as a part of Finland’s national culture, and it has been given the status of national instrument. The five-string kantele, hollowed out from a solid piece of wood, is regarded as the oldest model of Finnish kantele instruments. The exact age is under ongoing evaluation and debates, estimates varying from 1,000 to 3,000 years. In Finland and Karelia kantele music with runolaulu (Kalevala metre runo-song), laments and incantations, was an inseparable part of the ancient aural music culture, which was found as a still living tradition in isolated Karelian villages at the end of the 19th century and even at the beginning of the 20th century.
One of the most important factors affecting the quality of this music is the instrument itself. The timbre and the sound properties searched for in modern types of kantele, to suit modern aesthetics of sound, differ substantially from those of old models. To be able to come closer to the inner core of the old music, and to be able to understand its aesthetics deeper, the musician needs to have the right kind of an instrument. In addition to the structure, the wood and the way the instrument is made, the material of the strings is also relevant. The Finnish-Karelian small kanteles of the 19th century often had brass or bronze strings (in addition to iron or steel and mainly formerly used horse-hair), and some replicas with such string material have now been made with striking results.