The Mountain King, Song # 6: Search

January 15, 2017

 

This is blog no. 6 about our album The Mountain King. Recorded at Wall of Sound Studio with John Wall in Albuquerque. Search is performed by Scott Darsee, electric guitar, percussion, and Johanna Hongell-Darsee, vocals, percussion, and sälgflöjt (willow flute).

 

You can hear the full song on our Recordings page.

 

This song differs from the others on our album in that it is not a medieval ballad, but verses from the much older oral tradition of the Finnish epic Kalevala.

 

The Kalevala is a collection of traditional Finnish epic songs that tell mythological stories of creation, heroes, heroines and adventures. The tradition is probably very old, some say it might have roots all the way back to the bronze age and it was wide spread all over Finland and the Baltic countries as well as part of what is today Russia.

 

In the 19th century Elias Lönnroth traveled all through Finland to collect these songs and later edited them into what was to become the epic Kalevala.

 

In the song Search we use a few verses from a story about the hero Lemminkäinen. During his adventures he gets killed and cut into pieces. His mother goes in search of him. She asks the road, the trees and the moon if they have seen her child. But they are all busy with their own problems. Finally it is the sun who helps her and she finds her child in the River of Death. She picks up the pieces and puts him together again with the help of the Goddess of Sinew, but that is not enough, so she asks a Bee

 

 to gather honey from various directions and with this, he comes back to life.


“Oi tiehyt, Jumalan luoma! Etkö nähnyt poikoani, kullaista omenatani, hope'ista sauvoani?”

“Oh, road have you seen my child, my golden apple, my silver staff?”

 

“On huolta itsestäniki huolimatta poiastasi kun olen koville luotu, pantu päiville pahoille: joka koiran juostavaksi, ratsahan ajeltavaksi, kovan kengän käytäväksi, kannan karskuteltavaksi”

“I have enough of my own troubles without worrying about your child. Here I lie being trampled by hard heels scratched by the paws of dogs.”

 

 “Puu kulta, Jumalan luoma! Etkö nähnyt poikoani, kullaista omenatani, hope'ista sauvoani?”

“Oh, tree have you seen my child, my golden apple, my silver staff?”

 

“On huolta itsestäniki huolimatta poiastasi kun olen koville luotu, pantu päiville pahoille: pinopuiksi pilkkumahan, haloiksi hakattamahan, riutumahan riihipuiksi, kaskipuiksi kaatumahan."

“I have enough of my own troubles without worrying about your child. Here I stand just waiting fo someone to come and cut me down into firewood.”

 

“Kuu kulta, Jumalan luoma! Etkö nähnyt poikoani kullaista omenatani, hope'ista sauvoani?”

“Oh, moon have you seen my child, my golden apple, my silver staff?” 

 

“On huolta itsestäniki huolimatta poiastasi kun olen koville luotu, pantu päiville pahoille: yksin öitä kulkemahan, pakkasella paistamahan, talvet tarkoin valvomahan, kesäksi katoamahan."

“I have enough of my own troubles without worrying about your child. Here I wander all alone in the cold winter sky, fading away when summer comes.”

 

“Oi päivyt, Jumalan luoma! Etkö nähnyt poikoani kullaista omenatani, hope'ista sauvoani?”

“Oh, sun have you seen my child, my golden apple, my sliver staff?”
 

The reason we use this song in the story of the Mountain King is to illustrate how the mother searches for her child. In the myth of Persephone it is also the sun that helps Demeter to find her daughter after years of searching for her all over the world.

 

The melody is inspired by a recording from 1905 of traditional singer Iivana Oniola, recorded by The Finnish Literature Society. We have slightly changed the melody, and adapted for modern guitar, vocals, percussion and a replication of the Swedish willow flute. 

 

In olden days people used to make flutes from willow shoots in the spring. The center wood would be pushed out, leaving a cylinder of bark. Then part of the wood would be used to make the mouth piece. This would result in an overtone flute without finger holes. Different notes are produced by varying the air flow. This creates a scale that differs from the regular scale that can be obtained with flutes with finger holes.

 

 

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