Introduction to the original 2014 year edition

The publication "Traditional Music and Customs of Saaremaa", that is comprised of a CD and a DVD, is a selection of traditional songs, dances and examples of customs of Saaremaa, which I recorded in 1961–2012 either alone or with my colleagues from the Folklore Archives. The texts and tunes of songs on the CD and DVD (except Mustjala wedding songs) have been published in the book "The Songs and Tales of Saaremaa", which contains a more detailed survey of the songlore of Saaremaa islanders in the early 20th century and introduces several singers, singing situations and other material more extensively.

I acquired my first folklore collecting experience as a young student in Saaremaa in 1956 during my folklore collecting internship in Kihelkonna parish and in Vilsandi. Back then we had not yet had a tape recorder. I first joined an expedition of the Folklore Archives of the Estonian Literary Museum in 1961. Together with Ottilie Kõiva we recorded heritage-based material mainly in eastern Saaremaa. We were especially interested in local village songmakers and their songs, but we also recorded alliterative runosongs already rare at that time, as well as circlegame songs, dance songs and other traditional folklore material. At times, the Literary Museum engineer Richard Hansen helped us with a film camera. We also assisted in the filming of Mustjala wedding customs, supervised by Herbert Tampere.

In addition to two longer expeditions, I have made several shorter trips based on previously obtained information about good connoisseurs of songs. Such were the trip to Sõrve and the visit to Juuli and Albert Kald in Pihtla, both in 1975. In Sõrve, wedding songs and information, pertaining to the wedding ceremony and calendar customs, were recorded and also beliefs, seamen's songs, local village songs and facts about their authors. An outstanding singer of Sõrve was Villem Õunpuu, who lived in Mässa village of Torgu municipality. Juuli Kald knew many dance songs, soldiers' songs and other types of songs, which she sang in a high ringing voice. She had mostly brought her songs along from her childhood home in Muhu.

In 1974, during my summer holidays in Saaremaa, I first heard about the Valjala singer Anna Miller. She sang only a few songs, but among them was the most valuable find of my Saaremaa trips – an alliterative runosong about a shipwreck, in which a well-known plot was set in the local context. The songs by Maidu Vallik, a songmaker of Asva village of Laimjala municipality, whom I had previously heard singing at a birthday party, were recorded with a video camera in my summer home in 2012.

The collected material gives a fairly representative overview of the songlore of Saaremaa islanders in the early 20th century. Although Maidu Vallik created his songs at the end of the 20th century, they continue the village song tradition, which dates back to the century's earlier decades.

Ingrid Rüütel



Asva village (Pöide)

Audla village (Pöide)

Haeska village (Valjala)

Kalma village (Pöide)

Kiriku village (Valjala)

Kungla village (Valjala)

Kõiguste village (Pöide)

Kõnnu village (Valjala)

Liiva-Putla village (Püha)

Loona village (Püha)

Mässa village (Jämaja)

Orinõmme village (Pöide)

Oti settlement (Pöide)

Pahavalla village (Pöide)

Ridala village (Pöide)

Soonda village (Muhu)


Turja village (Valjala)

Tõnija village (Valjala)

Veere village (Pöide)

Võhma village (Pöide)

Sound recordings


Online edition

Editors Janika Oras, Kadi Sarv
Translation into English Inna Feldbach, Olga Ivaškevitš
Selection of photos Aivo Põlluäär
Project co-ordinator Risto Järv
Web design Lorem Ipsum
Cover photo Ingrid Rüütel 2007 (private collection)

Sponsors of the web publication

Ensemble Trad.Attack!
Ministry of Education and Research (projekt IUT22-4)
The European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies)
The Cultural Endowment of Estonia


ELM Scholarly Press, 2018
© and ℗ Estonian Literary Museum, 2018
© Ingrid Rüütel
ISBN 978-9949-586-57-8

Online edition is based on

Saaremaa rahvamuusikat ja kombeid /
Traditional Music and Customs of Saaremaa

Collected and compiled by Ingrid Rüütel.
Recordings from the Estonian Folklore Archives 8. Tartu 2014

[CD, DVD and textbook]
Sound production and CD mastering Jaan Tamm
DVD editing and mastering Jaan Kolberg
Editor Janika Oras
Translation into English Inna Feldbach
Design and text book layout Krista Saare
Print Kruuli Trükikoja AS
Replication Baltic Disc AS

Rüütel, Ingrid. Saaremaa laule ja lugusid. Mis on jäänud jälgedesse I
[The Songs and Tales of Saaremaa. What Remains in Our Traces I]

Tartu: ELM Scholarly Press 2015

Editor Asta Niinemets
Music transcription Ingrid Rüütel, Ludmilla Toon, Edna Tuvi
Notation editing Ingrid Rüütel, Edna Tuvi
Sheet music graphics Edna Tuvi
Texts transcription Erna Tampere, Ingrid Rüütel
Dialectic texts editor Ester Kuusik
Translation of summary Inna Feldbach
Layout and design Krista Saare
Print OÜ Greif Trükikoda