Traditional / folk music of Lithuania
Lithunia is a small country but it has rich and strong folk music in north west part of the Europe. Before modern era folk music and dance was part of all events in villages and these music traditions passed to modern era too. Today many folk and neo-folk musici bands exists in Lithuania. Some keeps the traditions and try to maintain the folk music of ancestors and some try to give new blood into traditional music of Lithuania. This folk music is part of Baltic music and culture.
The first people in Lithuania region, lived from 10th millennium BC and later on 3rd – 2nd millennium BC first Indo-Europeans arrived and by mixing with local people formed many different Baltic tribes.
During the Medieval age, specially in 14th century, Lithuania was a big multicultural kingdom including Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia. It was one of the last pagan areas of Europe which accepted Christianity.
In 20th century, in 1940, Soviet Union occupied Lithuania and it suffered from Soviet Union dictatorship until 1991 and it achieved its freedom again.
The folk music of Lithuania today has deep roots in its history even into the pagan era. It is also tighten to the folk dances in Lithuania. Folk dances is done by all the community. It starts in the circle and then transform into the line, snake line and other shapes and sometimes transform into pair dances. Those dances who are performed just by pairs are mostly have origin outside of Lithuania.
In Balkan language, Daina is the name of traditional vocal songs which are sung in Lithuania and also Latvia. They almost covered all different type of events and they divided into six categories. Each category may also sub divided into many sub genres.
The main categories of daina are sutartinės, raudos, wedding songs, war-historical time songs, calendar cycle and ritual songs, winter festivals songs and work songs. Most of the names are clear what the genre is about.
Work songs are about different aspect of works and activities. They cover many different type of works like Fishing, hunting, milling, haymaking, herding songs and many more.
War-historical time folk songs refer to many heroic and battles during the centuries. For example Battle of Kircholm in 17th century and battles with Tatars in the first half of 19th century.
Raudos (weeps) or Laments folk songs refer to funeral traditions. Probably they are one of the oldest folk songs in Lithuania and they comes back to 9th century. Raudos are improvisatory although they bounds with established tradition and poetics. "Professional" lamenters, hired to sing at funerals, displayed great skill in impelling their listeners to tears.
May be sutartinės folk songs are the most important ones or at least the most famous ones. They are an ancient form of two and three voiced polyphony, based on the oldest principles of multi voiced vocal music: heterophony, parallelism, canon and free imitation. Sutartinės can be performed by two or three singers or two pair of singers. In northwest of Lithuania they are sung by women. But men do the instrumental versions with instruments like kanklės, horns or panpipes. They can also accompanied by a humorous and spirited dance. But the dance is slow. These songs are performed in various events and festivals. Today sutartinės folk songs almost extinct between people as a genre and tradition. But it is heavily used and performed by many Lithuanian folklore ensembles.
There are many different folk musical instruments are used in traditional music of Lithuania. In the past, folk dances were not accompanied with musical instruments but from 19th century the tradition changed slowly and instruments like fiddle, basetle, lamzdeliai and kanklės came to accompany the dances. One of the most important folk musical instrument of Lithuania is Kanklės. It is a plucked string musical instrument from the zither family. Also in different part of Lithuania, there are different variations. In Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Russia some similar instruments from the same family exist and being used. Some other traditional instruments in Lithuania are skrabalai (percussion instrument) and skudučiai (wind instrument).
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Traditional / folk songs for Lithuania
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