Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Varttina: Music from Another World

J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is back in the spotlight. A musical version of the famous saga is now on stage in Toronto. The score was co-composed by Bollywood's A.R. Rahman and the Finnish musical group Varttina.

Varttina's three female singers and six male acoustic musicians have been together for more than 20 years. The group recently released their 10th recording, called Miero. Their lyrics are rooted in ancient poems from the Karelia region of Finland.

Their vocals draw from the region's traditions of women's voices. And their music incorporates some exotic instruments, including the bouzouki, nyckelharpa and guitalele. The result sounds like mysterious incantations from an ancient tribe.

Mari Kaasinen and musician Janne Lappalainen tell Liane Hansen about the folk traditions associated with Varttina's music and why the group emphasizes female vocalists.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information