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Also known asJäykkä Leipä
OriginHelsinki, Finland
GenresFolk, a cappella
Years active1989–present
MembersSari Kauranen
Anita Lehtola-Tollin
Timo Väänänen
Hanni-Mari Autere
Past membersSanna Kurki-Suonio
Tellu Paulasto

Loituma is a Finnish quartet whose members combine the Finnish vocal tradition with the sounds of the kantele. Loituma were selected Ensemble of the Year at the 1997 Kaustinen Folk Music Festival.


Loituma’s initial incarnation was in the autumn of 1989 as a septet called Jäykkä Leipä ("Stiff Bread"), born in the Sibelius Academy’s Folk music department. The original lineup included singers Sanna Kurki-Suonio and Tellu Paulasto, who later left for Sweden to join Hedningarna.

Over the years, the group has persistently followed its own musical path, incorporating diverse influences into its music. One of the cornerstones of Finnish folk music is the art of singing, through which the stories and feelings which comprise aspects of the Finnish heritage are conveyed, aided by backing musicians Martti Pokela and Toivo Alaspää. Another cornerstone of Loituma's art is a Finnish folk instrument called the kantele, which is featured in varied ways in their recordings.

Loituma members compose or arrange the tunes themselves, but often use improvisation. Lyrics come from many sources, including two main traditional sources: the Kalevala, the national epic of Finland; and the Kanteletar. The lyrics are in Finnish.

Loituma gained great popularity[1] in 2006 when the Loituma Girl (also known as Leekspin), a looped Flash animation of an anime girl Orihime Inoue from the Bleach series twirling a leek, set to a scat singing section of "Ievan polkka" from Loituma's 1995 debut album Things of Beauty,[2] was posted in Russian LiveJournal. The animation instantly became an Internet phenomenon and the song clip soon enjoyed overwhelming popularity as a ringtone, with most of the young urban population aware of the "Yak zup zop" lyrics.[3]

Band members[edit]

  • Sari Kauranen — kanteles, vocals
  • Anita Lehtola-Tollin — vocals, 5-string kantele
  • Timo Väänänen — kanteles, vocals
  • Hanni-Mari Autere, Etno.net, Solo music — vocals, fiddle, 5-string kantele, alto recorder, double bass, Lapin drum



  • Loituma (released in Finland in 1995) / Things of Beauty (released in the United States in 1998)
  • Kuutamolla (released in Finland in 1998) / In the Moonlight (released in United States in 1999)


List of singles with chart positions and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Ieva's polka" 2007 48 Loituma


  1. ^ "Web Search interest: Loituma, folk music - Worldwide, 2004 - present". Google Trends. Retrieved 26 June 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Werman, Marco (18 August 2006). "Global Hit". The World. Public Radio International. Archived from the original (radio) on 2006-10-01. Retrieved 18 August 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Russian meme and cultural phenomena wiki Lurkmore - Yak Zup Zop article
  4. ^ "Discographie von – Loituma" [Loituma – Discography]. Offizielle Deutsche Charts (in German). Retrieved 5 December 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]