Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to dress like a Victorian orphan in 10 easy steps.

Kidding, obviously. Actually I was going to write about folk music. As many of my lovely readers know, my music tastes gravitate towards such new-folk (indie folk, freak folk,nouveau psych folk, anti folk, and what-have-you other fun labels) acts as the Bowerbirds, Joanna Newsom, Mariee Sioux, Marissa Nadler, Basia Bulat, Horse Feathers, Elephant Revival, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

To bore you with the definition the original term folk music meant musical folklore, the music of a particular group of people, whether defined by their social strata, place of residence, or ethnic origin. Before the 1950s the term folk music often meant the music of the lower classes, passed down word-of-mouth, of uncertain authorship.

Early folk musicians, such as Woody Guthrie, often collected and performed traditional folk songs, as well as writing their own.

The folk revival, which began in the mid-fifties and culminated in the protest songs of the sixties permanently altered the meaning of the term, though such earlier singers of a particular "folk", such as IWW troubadour Joe Hill and blues musician Huddie Ledbetter, can certainly be included in the Western folk-canon.

While the sixties and the seventies took folk music towards a new direction, one less influenced by traditional styles, and more influenced by the political turmoil of the world, it retained the traditional instruments of a wide range of cultures, such as accordions, fiddles, concertinas, as well as a penchant for the acoustic ballad. Singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, took folk to a new direction, at the same time keeping its down-to-earth, lo-fi sensibility.

While I have nothing but love and admiration for the new American folk, part of its appeal are its infinite permutations, which in turn have moved it further from its original roots.

Not so with Finnish folk music, which still produces a surprising number of acts that create original music in the vein of the traditional. Finnish folk music is typically simple, ballad-driven and takes inspiration both from the Swedish and the Polish traditions. They also have their very own instrument, called Kantele. This instrument is also used in the poetry-singing of the Kalevala verses.

While the American as well as Finnish new folk can be very touching and thought-provoking, it doesn't quite evoke the same visceral emotion, that traditional folk music sometimes can. A kind of sense that there are words behind that the words, that you already know. How could it? Many folk songs are after all remnants of old pagan rites and even fragments of spells.
Though I have to say this does come quite close.

Enough about folk music 101. Just thought I'd spread the love around a little. So about that Victorian orphan thing. It is for real, you guys.

Exhibit A. It looks kind of blah, but I was super comfy all day. The dress, after all, is an old nightie. I scored the jeans and the Docs from the Dump last Sunday, and both are very comfy and practical. I've come up with a rule that makes getting dressed easy. It's two-fold: Dressing can't take more than 10 minutes and you can't wear the exact same thing two days in a row.
It could be why I look like such a hobo though...
I also scored this grocery bag. It advertises a local organic foods store.
This illustration cracks me up. The kid is a cabbage-head! A cabbage-head!

Other things that cracks me up: Chicken-wrangling.

I also managed to do braid wednesday. Taking pictures of the back of your own head definitely cracks me up.
To end this monster-post, I'd like to play some more music. This is a new traditional, from the awesome Finnish folk band Tallari, onto which C. originally turned me. He has much affinity with Finnish folk music, since his Finnish grandpa was a Fiddler from the famous town of Kaustinen.

Needless to say this song is rather sad. It's called The Two King's Children, and tells the star-crossed love-story of the children of two Monarchs. Separated by a bay the lovers debate how to get to each other. One lights a row of candles on the shore to guide the other, who then dresses herself into a white gown in order to swim to her beloved. However two enemies overhear their conversation and snuff out the candles. The girl drowns. In the final verse she tells the water to give her greetings to her mother, and father and to tell them not to mourn for her.


  1. girl you have no idea how much joy i got from every aspect of this post. xxx

  2. Victorian orphan!! I like that name for the style that is basically about pulling random bits from that big pile... which is my preferred method of getting dressed of late.. TOOOOO busy!!! Indiana is napping and I have a rare moment...I want to read up on your blog more... Hugs!!!

  3. Speaking of spreading the love around a little, I'd like to reaquest another awesome Milla-mix CD in my next package pleeeeease!

    Great post!

  4. That bag is really something else.

    Oh, and yes to folk music! Great post--you look lovely, too.

  5. Yay chickens!! I love chicken wrangling. They are so funny when they run around!

  6. I am completely taken with Finnish folk music. It was so nice to read this post!

  7. Once I finished laughing that there WASN'T 10 easy steps to dressing like a Victorian Orphan, (you jester you!) I was quite taken with your adoring post on folk music. (this sentence has bad grammar, I know, but I cannot think how else to write it)

  8. Oh how nice with a post about the kantele! And everything else about this post, really. Love this blog.

  9. Wonderful post Milla! We definitely have the same taste in music. I feel infinitely blessed to actually know Marie, Joanna, and Alela. (I am so lucky to have married into the town I did!). Do you like Will Oldham? Marie just recorded an EP with him! I can't wait to hear it!

    And obviously we have the same taste in clothes. I actually put together an outfit the other day that was totally inspired by you! It has been so rainy that I haven't been able to photo it yet. It's more po' country girl orphan, but it's so you! And so adorable :-)

  10. There's a lot of great folk inspired music around at the moment. Joanna Newsom is actually doing a show in New Zealand in a week's time but I'm too late for tickets, I think :( I do love a lot of the Finnish folk inspired artists like Islaja. I hadn't heard of the group you mention, but they sound interesting.

  11. Finnish folk music bands that I like:

    C's grandpa is a fiddler from Kaustinen?! Howcome this never came up before?!! You guys have to come to Finland one summer and let's go to Kaustinen folk festival (unless they now stop it!)together!