Riitta Rainio & Noora Vikman

Riitta Rainio & Noora Vikman: Engagements with environment – art of echos, traditions and rituals

Until the last century, Finnish sages healed the sick through various sonic rituals containing sung or spoken spells, shouting, spitting, shooting and other types of making noise. According to tradition, these rituals were often performed by cliffs, gorges and caves, where echoes or reverberation from surrounding rocky surfaces could have an effect on the healing experiences and practices. This paper explores the interaction and dialogue between sound, wellbeing and natural environment at the historical site of Vaskikallio (‘Copper Rock’) situated in Lieksa, Eastern Finland. We examine the acoustic properties of Vaskikallio by in situ impulse response measurements. We trace the spells used by a local healer Antti Vinne (1826–1898) from folklore databases and perform and record them in their original acoustic context by the echoing cliff.

Furthermore, we interview present-day visitors of Vaskikallio in order to find out the meaning(fullnes) of this place today. How do those people who visit Vaskikallio experience it? What all makes it and places alike special and meaningful? What happens if these experiences are put in dialogue with artistic expression? What happens when the artists visit the place for the first time? What are their (first) impression of the acoustics when they sing, joik, drum or sing there? What is the role of the natural environments in their art? How do the visitors get inspired by the stories of the past and why do they attract? How has the stories been applied to certain rituals and art? How have the traditions been adopted to the experiences, music and performances? Is all this connected to go for wellbeing? If yes how?