Teekkari Song Culture

Singing has been a part of Teekkari culture for over a hundred years.

“A Teekkari sings rather than well.” This is a common phrase amongst Teekkari people, showing well that while singing is an important part of the culture, it is not something to be taken too seriously. Singing is a way to have fun, and so is involved in a range of Teekkari celebrations, from the fanciest annual ball to the most casual of hangouts. Teekkari songs are even often a delight of excursions, where they are used to thank the excursion hosts, and within the sauna.

Singing has been a part of Teekkari culture for over a hundred years. While influenced primarily by Swedish drinking songs (snapsilaulu or snapsvisa) and by German student culture, songs from all over the world can be found in various Teekkari song books around Finland. Despite all these influences, Teekkari song culture is also very much its own thing, with variation based on city, guild, or the year of study. However, humorous lyrics and a focus on wordplay are a strong part of almost every Teekkari song.

A wide range of song types can be found within Teekkari song culture, from short drinking songs to full ballads. The most beloved songs are often some of the oldest, and are sung with devotion. The most traditional song is the Teekkari Hymn (Teekkarihymni), which is sung with respect at midnight, usually with the lights out and while standing up. The origin of the hymn has been a source of legend for decades, as was discussed in the TEK magazine (only in Finnish). In Autumn 2015, TEK’s Teekkari Committee recommended that the n-word in the song’s original lyrics should be replaced in future with the word Teekkari – officially making the line “Yö kuin sielu teekkarin on pimiä”, or “Night is as dark as the soul of a Teekkari”, as had been mostly sung for many years already. This news was reported by Yle.

Teekkari Songbooks

Teekkari songs are collected in songbooks, the first of which was published in 1929. Since then, guilds, clubs and various communities have also compiled and published their own book.

In each place where Teekkari people gather, there is generally a well-established songbook. The most famous of these are:

  • Tampere: Rasputin
  • Lappeenranta: PunaMusta
  • Oulu: Laulukalu and Tasku-Teppo
  • Otaniemi: Teekkarien punainen laulukirja (The combined Otaniemi Teekkari songbook), Koneinsinöörikillan Wirsu (used by mechanical engineering students of other universities as well) and The Songbook (English language and international songbook published by Aalto University Student Union)
  • Vaasa: Kultakurkku (Songbook of the Vaasa University Student Union)
  • Turku: Urho-Matti (3.0) (Songbook of Digit ry and Nucleus ry)

TEK has also published some of its own songbooks:

  • 2005: Tarhapöllö - “Water spring source” of Teekkari songs
  • 2008: Helmipöllö - “At the upstream” of Teekkari songs
  • 2011: Pupahaukka - “In the rapids” of Teekkari songs
  • 2014: Pärlugglan - “In the torrents” of Teekkari songs (book is in Swedish)
  • 2014: Yöpöllö –  “In the river’s calm” of Teekkari songs

A Wide Range of Music

Teekkari communities are also home to more serious and professional makers of music, thanks to the presence of local choirs, orchestras, and associations and clubs for a range of different musical styles.

Well-known Teekkari choirs include Polyteknikkojen Kuoro PK (Otaniemi), Dominante (Otaniemi), Teekkarikuoro TeeKu (Oulu), Teekkarikuoro (Tampere), Teekkarilaulajat (Lappeenranta), Resonanssi (Lappeenranta) and Hummeripojat.

Well-known orchestras include Polyteknikkojen Orkesteri PO (Otaniemi), Retuperän WBK (Otaniemi), Teknologorkestern Humpsvakar (Otaniemi), Teekkaritorvet (Oulu) and Axelbandet (Turku).

Entropy (Otaniemi) and Spinni (Tampere) are among those promoting electronic music culture.

Want to know what your local area has? On the Teekkari Cities page are the links to the general pages for clubs and associations in each area.