Joik is a Sámi song tradition. In pre-Christian times the joik was used by the noaidi to achieve a trance, but the joik has fulfilled many functions in Sámi culture which were unconnected with such rituals.

Joik calms the reindeer herd and drives away wild animals. It is used to tell stories (narrative joiks) or to bring forth the memory of a place, an animal or a person (personified joiks).

It is not called joiking about something or someone, but joiking them. It is the one who joiks who becomes the “owner” of the joik. In such personified joiks it is not the words which are central, but the music and the mood.

In the coastal and eastern Sámi areas the old joiks are often narrative. They have more of a “singing” feel and use more words

Old joiks may tell of pre-Christian faith and mythology. We know the legend of Beaivebártni, the son of the Sun, from a south Sámi joik which was written down at the end of the 19th century.

At the time of the coming of Christianity the joik was condemned as sinful. Today the joik is often used as a source of inspiration and an element of modern Sámi music.

Traditional and new joiks from inner Finnmark: Ande Somby´s yoik-room

Traditional coastal Sámi joik from Varanger:
Øystein Nilsen joiks the girls at Ceavccageađge/ Mortensnes when they see the trading ships sail in the Varanger fjord.

Traditional Skolt Sámi joik from Kola

in modern music:
Adjagas (indie), Mari Boine (world music)

The Eliel Lagercrantz project

Pollan, Brita, 1993: Samiske sjamaner.

Ceavccageađge/Transteinen i Mortensnes. Govva/Foto: Mihkku Solbakk