Estonia’s heritage is mostly preserved in the form of folk songs and legends that were sung and told by older generations to younger ones.

In olden days singing was as much a part of everyday activities as work but it also belonged in rituals and at parties. Old folk songs differ in their rhythm and melody and are sung in unison (i.e. monophonic). In addition to Estonian runo-songs (runic songs, songs in runo-verse form) songs with a different melody and poetry emerged about 200 years ago. Runic singing was widespread among Estonians until the 18th century but then it started to be replaced by rhythmic folk songs.

Nowadays folksongs are primarily for entertainment.

Q: Estonians are said to be a singing nation. You have different song festivals or song celebrations and you even speak about the Singing Revolution. Could you tell me more about that?

A: We are very proud of our song and dance festivals. It did not start from scratch. Let’s go back in history and have a look at the development of our singing tradition.