Tag Archives: Estonia

The Modern Music of Estonia

Estrada Orchestra

Estrada Orchestra

Estonia’s folk music tradition is rich, dating back as far as the 12th century when they were known as “runic songs.” Those songs evolved into a more rhythmic form that found favor from around the 18th century onwards. Soon after—and after centuries living under rule by numerous other countries—Estonia experienced something of a national awakening. In 1918, the nation was officially declared independent, which was followed by a century of distinctly unique cultural developments, which yielded pioneering artists like Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, and Erkki-Sven Tüür. Continue reading

Two Dragons, Estonia, and a New Solo Project for Erki Pärnoja

Erki Parnoja

Erki Parnoja by Tonu Tunnel

There aren’t many “big” Estonian bands. A nation of just over one million people with limited large cities can’t sustain many full-time musicians. (On the flip side, in a culture heavy on traditional folk music, it can often seem like everyone in the country has some kind of musical skill.) That makes Ewert and the Two Dragons’ success both at home and abroad all the more exciting.

Two Dragons guitarist Erki Pärnoja is piggybacking on the band’s international reach with a new solo project, though he has no plans to turn his back on the folk-rock outfit. After two albums, multiple international tours, and even a 2013 European Border Breakers award, he’s entirely wrapped up in Ewert and the Two Dragons. But thanks to a game of “what if,” Pärnoja found himself craving a bit more than band life. With Efterglow, his full-length solo debut, Pärnoja got his answers. It started with him wondering what would happen if he worked alone and embraced the Beatles and Rolling Stones—the two guitar heroes from his youth. It ended with one of his tracks scoring a mini-documentary about the life of his grandmother. In the clip, scored by the album’s title track, his grandmother returns to the ruins of the textile factory where she for the majority of her life. Like Pärnoja’s music, it’s both largely left open for viewer interpretation. It’s also deeply moving.

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