Karl Tirén’s recording expeditions

In order to document joikers, Karl Tirén made six trips with a phonograph and empty wax cylinders in his luggage. These journeys and his other recording trips are described in detail in Gunnar Ternhag’s book Jojksamlaren Karl Tirén [The Joik collector Karl Tirén] (2000).

The goal of the first collecting trip was the winter markets in Arvidsjaur and Arjeplog in February 1913. In July 1913, Tirén made a collecting trip in which he first made phonograph recordings – mostly in Tärnaby in connection with a so-called böndagshelg, a church festival, and then continued by making notations on paper by ear.

In January 1914, Tirén visited the winter markets in Lycksele and Åsele to continue his recording operations. The summer of 1914 resulted in recordings from a trip to Jokkmokk and Kvikkjokk in late June, and recordings in July, in connection with governor Walter Murray’s meetings in various locations with reindeer herders. Tirén’s last field recordings with the phonograph were made in October 1915, in connection with being invited as a guest when Maria Persson-Johansson, Tirén’s most important contact among joikers, was married.

Winter markets in Arvidsjaur and Arjeplog in 1913

Karl Tirén made his first phonograph recordings at the winter market in Arvidsjaur 1913, on 8th – 9th February. There, he documented 13 joikers. Tirén then continued to Arjeplog, where a market was also to be held. Prior to this trip, he had contacted Maria Persson, who permitted Tirén to make recordings in her home, where she invited friends and family to joik.

In Arvidsjaur, Tirén had become familiar with the writer and folklore expert Karl-Erik Forsslund (1872-1941). The latter participated in Tirén’s recording work in Arjeplog and wrote a long article, När lapparna joika, about his impressions. The article was published in the national newspaper Dagens Nyheter on 2nd March 1913.

Portraits of joikers

In the article Forsslund makes small mini-portraits of several of the joikers who were present, and he also describes how the recording work was carried out, which makes the article worth reading and justifies making it available in this context.

Forslund’s text is otherwise a mixture of romantic exoticism about Sami life and culture, whilst attempting to explain and defend the joik, as a highly evolved form of music – something that was a basis for Karl Tirén’s work with Sami music.

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