02. Reincarnations of Emma: Categorizing Finnish mainstream music



1. Olavi Virta, “Ehkä tästä tulee iskelmä”

From: Olavi Virta, “Ilta Santa Cruzissa” / “Ehkä tästä tulee iskelmä”, Sointu 910, 1947, 78 rpm.


Olavi Virta: vocals
Orchestra: Sointu-orkesteri.




The lyrics of this old Finnish dance tune are written by Olavi Virta. The song is composed by Yngwe Stoor and pseudonym Miguel Torres (= Helge Roundquist).


2. Reijo Taipale, “Satumaa”

From: Reijo Taipale – Reijo Taipale, Scandia HSLP 119, 1970.


Reijo Taipale: vocals
Orchestra: no credits for orchestra




“Satumaa” is one of the most famous tangos in Finland. It was also a crucial part of the so-called Finnish tango boom in the 1960s. The composer and lyricist of the song is Unto Mononen. He wrote “Satumaa” in 1949.


3. Ture Ara, “Emma”

From: His Master’s Voice ‎– X 2990, Shellac, 10″, 78 RPM, 1929.


Ture Ara: vocals.





“Emma” waltz is an iconic and traditional Finnish folk song. This is one of the earliest recordings of the song performed by opera singer and artist Ture Ara, accompanied by a traditional string orchestra.



Pop music inspired twist version of “Emma” was recorded by a Finnish “rautalanka” (steel wire) band The Sounds in 1963. Their first single was “Emma / Mandschurian Beat” was popular and became no 1 in the singles chart in Finland the same year. The musicians playing in The Sounds were Henrik Granö (solo guitar), Bobi Söderblom (guitar), Peter Ekman (bass) and Johnny Liebkind (drums).



Another popular version of the song was recorded by a vernacular artist Tapio Rautavaara in 1970. This version follows the traditional waltz song and it is accompanied by an accordion, a popular instrument for Finnish iskelmä at the time.


4. Taiska, “Villi vapaudenkaipuu”

From: Taiska, Villi vapaudenkaipuu, Fazer Finnlevy FL 5089, 1980.


Taiska: vocals.
Band (credits on the record): Pentti Lahti: alto saxophone; Heikki Virtanen: bass; Vesa Aaltonen: drums; Janne Louhivuori: guitar; Juha Björninen: guitar; Heikki Laurila: mandolin; Jori Sivonen: mandolin, synthesizer; Juhani Aaltonen: tenor waxophone; Kari Kuusamo: piano, organ, electric piano.




This song is a translation from the song called “Looking for freedom” by Jack White and Gary Cowtan (composition and original lyrics). The Finnish version of the song is arranged by Jori Sivonen. The lyrics are made by Raul Reiman.