06. Negotiating Major and Minor Structures: Popular Music and the Swedish-Speaking Minority of Finland



1. Bo Andersson, “Höstvisa”

From: Små violer: Finlandssvenska sånger, Love Records LRLP80, 1973, 33⅓ rpm.


Bo Andersson: vocals; studio ensemble.


Lyrics (Swedish Original)

Lyrics (English translation Monica Anderson)



The visa “Höstvisan” was composed by Finland-Swedish, Jewish composer and pianist Erna Tauro to the lyrics of Finland-Swedish author and visual artist Tove Jansson, who has become most famous for her Moomin books. Already before the song, Tauro and Jansson had worked together on music for a Moomin theatre play. “Höstvisan” was first performed in 1965 at a song competition of the Swedish department of the national broadcasting corporation, where it won third prize. After its publication it became a loved evergreen performed by many artists both in Finland and Sweden.


2. 1G3B, “Laihela” (“En Historia om en Äldre Kriminell Herreman från Laihela”)

Published on 1G3B’s web page: http://www.1g3b.com/.





The heavy metal band 1G3B is an example of how Finland-Swedish musicians have managed to use new technology to produce and spread their music in a way that would have been impossible in the traditional record industry framework. The songs are performed in a very strong local Swedish dialect, which is spoken mainly by the around 10,000 people who live in the band’s home region of Närpes and is more or less incomprehensible to other Swedish speakers. At the turn of the millennium, the band started to offer its music on its website in the form of free downloadable mp3 files and Flash videos, together with a discussion forum, song lyrics and tablatures, absurd stories and proverbial sayings written by the musicians, fan polls, merchandise, and downloadable digital wall paper imagery and ring tones. This made not only the music accessible for a larger audience, but strengthened a geographically widespread community belonging on Internet.


3. Georg Malmstén, “Hangö-valsen” (Finnish version ”Leila”)

From: “Georg Malmstén” Scandia SEP206, 1965 [first recording 1932].


Georg Malmstén: vocals; Jaakkko Salo orchestra.


Audio (Swedish version “Hangö-valsen”):

Lyrics (Swedish)



Audio (Finnish version “Leila”):

Lyrics (Finnish lyrics by R.R.Ryynänen)



Georg Malmstém originally wrote the archipelago waltz Hangö-valsen with Swedish lyrics praising the summers of the coastal city of Hangö (in Finnish Hanko). The song became a hit when Malmstén performed it with R. R. Ryynänen’s Finnish lyrics, which tell about missing a lost love. The Finnish version is also included in the highly successful film “Meidän poikamme merellä” (1933), which is the first film musical made in Finland.


4. Lasse Mårtenson, “Stormskärs Maja”

From: Skärgård, Kompass KOLP1, 1977, 33⅓ rpm.


Lasse Mårtenson: piano; studio ensemble.




Lasse Mårtenson made a versatile career as singer, pianist, composer and lyricist, performing pop songs in Finnish and Finland-Swedish visa. His most successful composition is “Stormskärs Maja” (“Maja of Stormskär” or “Maja from the Storm Skerries”), which was written for a TV-series with the same name set in the Swedish-speaking archipelago.


5. Dave Lindholm, “Sirkus”

From: Sirkus, Love Records LRLP76, 1973, 33⅓ rpm.


Isokynä Lindholm: vocals, guitar, harmonica; band.




Dave Lindholm is an example of a Swedish-speaking artist who has never written or performed any Swedish lyrics during his career. He became one of the pioneers of Finnish rock lyricism with his records Iso “Kynä” Lindholm and “Sirkus”, where he describes the life of city youth using Helsinki slang in a personal, poetic way.