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040: Tuomas Rounakari: Aligning With Inspiration

Tuomas greeting two fans after a Korpiklaani concert.

“We don’t do anything right [when it comes to marketing], yet we are quite successful.” Tuomas Rounakari, violinist for the folk metal band Korpiklaani (among other things) discusses challenges and new realities of the music business, the importance of authenticity over best business practices, creating alignment with inspiration, and using joy as a guidestone for decisions. Philosophical and practical, this conversation goes much deeper than music or business and touches on living an authentic life with impact.

What was your most important takeaway or a-ha moment from this conversation? Email me at or tweet to @brocedwards and let me know.  


Tuomas Rounakari, Violinist, Composer, Ethnomusicologist

Tuomas Rounakari is an internationally acclaimed violinist, composer and an ethnomusicologist from Finland. Currently rocking the world with his fiddle in the phenomenal folk-metal band Korpiklaani with close to a hundred live shows per year globally. Tuomas Rounakari is often referred as a shaman violinist after his solo performance entitled Shamanviolin that is still going strong.

The Shamanviolin performance was born in reaction to his studies on archived Siberian shamanic songs. These songs had an immense affect to his personality. Through studying these songs he found both an explanation and a conscious way back to the trance state experiences in his early childhood. (You can read the story in his own words here)

Tuomas Rounakari is a founding member and a music director of a theatre group Ruska Ensemble, with an agenda to promote collaboration between first nations across the arctic areas. Ruska Ensemble has collaborated with Finnish National Theatre (Helsinki), Ob-Ugrian National Theatre (Khanty-Mansijsk), The Sámi National Theatre Beaivvaś (Koutakeino) and the National Theatre of Greenland (Nuuk).

Rounakari has also done field work among the Khanty people in Siberia as an ethnomusiclogist. One outcome of these fieldtrips is a Bear Feast performance that combines ritual, music, theatre and dance in a four-hour event. Rounakari’s version of the Bear Feast evokes the mythical bear living inside of us today. The performance is based on shared mythology between the Finns, Khanty, Mansy and Sámi people combining ancient poetry and modern poems from Jüri Wella and Scott. M. Nomaday.

One of his most recent projects is a spin off band from the Bear Feast performance entitled Ohtoni with Pekko Käppi, Antti Paalanen and Karoliina Kantelinen.

A key to understanding Tuomas Rounakari’s artistic world is an emphasis on dialogue in multiple levels. Dialogue between cultures, dialogue between ancient, present and future, dialogue with mythical entities and dialogue between man and nature. This emphasize in dialogue is both respecting ancient traditions and creating something new and unique. Traditions remain vital when they are both preserved and challenged at the same time. This approach has led Rounakari to revitalize several traditions from near extinction.

Over the course of twenty years, Tuomas Rounakari has taught over a thousand people to create personal lament songs using the principles of ancient Carelian laments, that became nearly extinct after the Second World War. In these laments, also known as the songs of rites of passage, Rounakari found a musical tool that resembled Eurasian shamanic songs but belongs to his own Finnish-Carelian heritage. Together with Pirkko Fihlman, Rounakari created a method of teaching laments that practically revitalized the genre. Today he is consulting the lament revival starting in Ireland with the first seminar and workshop on keening already held at the University College of Cork, Ireland in 2017.

Presently, Rounakari is finishing his PhD in the artistic research program at Sibelius-Academy, Finland, focusing on the techniques of dialogue with mythical entities in the music of arctic indigenous and Finno-Ugric peoples.  

Connect with Tuomas:

Get his music:

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Photo credit: Fox & Florals Media

Theme music: Just a Little by Shadow of Whales.

Big thanks for letting me use the song.

Find them, check out their videos, and get their music.


  1. Maïthé Coelho
    Maïthé Coelho March 15, 2019

    Hello, there!

    Just wanted to say that I decided to listen to this interview today during my daily walk. It made me smile all by myself in the street, at more than one occasion. It is a beautiful interview and Tuomas shared some beautiful thoughts and insights. I already think of life in a similar way that he does, but still I felt even more inspired to appreciate Nature and to create with passion.

    Thank you for inviting him!

    A Korpiklaani fan.

    • broc edwards
      broc edwards March 15, 2019

      Your comment just made my week 🙂 Thank you for sharing how the interview affected you. I really enjoy the conversations I have with all the guests, but this one remains my absolute favorite and one that I’ve gone back and re-listened to several times because of the effect he had on me. Like you, I find his philosophy and approach to life to be beautiful and inspiring and I will pass your comment along to Tuomas so he knows the impact he had.

  2. Maïthé Coelho
    Maïthé Coelho March 17, 2019

    That is very sweet of you! And indeed it is an interview worth re-listening and I’m planning to do that 🙂 Thank for your work, once again!

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