Elina Hytönen-Ng

Elina Hytönen-Ng: Corporeal experience of lamenting creating wellbeing

Lamenting was an old Karelian and Ingrian way to express grief for example when a close relative has died. Laments were also performed prior wedding when the bride was leaving her home to join the household of the groom. Other forms of laments are also known. It was a way for the village community to create balance within it.

Lamenting has not been limited to the Baltic-Finns with singing, but laments can also be found in Greece and Ireland, where it is called keening. Yet, in Finland the tradition has gone through a revival in modern Finnish society and found new creative forms in the contemporary environment.

This tradition can be viewed as very corporeal way of expressing one’s emotions through singing. In this paper I will be looking at the contemporary practises of lamenting and the ways that the participants explain their corporeal experiences of performing laments. In the interviews it has also been clear that writing and composing laments as well as performing them has a therapeutic effect. Lament singing does not follow any set structure but is partly improvised. The lament allows the singer to express their emotions and deal with any possible hardships that they face.

The interview data is composed of eleven interviews with people who offer lamenting courses, are active in making laments or in other ways participating in the discussions about lamenting. The interview are analysed by using discourse analysis. In addition, the researcher is using her own autoethnographical data on participating on lamenting courses and composing laments as well as performing them.