On August 30th, 2022, SibaRecords, the record label of the Sibelius Academy, Uniarts Helsinki will release Pia Siirala’s album, Seeking the Personal Song. The background of the album is Pia Siirala’s field trips to north-eastern Siberia where the ancient musical tradition of the Personal Song is still alive. The record will be released both as a CD and in a digital format.
A Personal Song is the heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic, in which singing personifies an individual and “invites” their spirit to be present. In its form, the seemingly free Personal Song is based on the singer’s perception and knowledge of the person who is the subject of the song. Personal Songs are essentially different from the songs of our own culture, which usually have a clearly defined musical content and structure.
In the Personal Song tradition, children receive their Personal Song at birth as a gift, along with their name. Later in life adults create their own songs. At a later age, songs begin to arise spontaneously in their mind, when a person is alone with their own thoughts. The Personal Songs are constantly changing, which is why versions of the same song often sound very different. Despite their changing nature, the songs retain something essential at their core, which is recognised by the members of their community.
Violinist Pia Siirala is studying the disappearing tradition of the Personal Song. The traditional singers, the Koryak Elder, Mulingaut and the Chukchi Elder, Vukvunga whom Pia met on her field trips, both gave her a Personal Song as a gift. Based on these songs, Pia is seeking to find and create her own song. She is inspired by the raw singing of the tundra peoples, listening to the effect it creates and gives them a musical shape with her violin.
The recording is part of Siirala’s artistic doctoral degree at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts. Her artistic research, “Aspect of hearing” concentrates on the music of the indigenous peoples of northeastern Siberia, especially the Chukchi.