The Baltics–Music

Ro:Torro from Estonia

— Estonian music:

For almost seven hundred years, from the 12th century until the 19th-century “Estonian national awakening,” Estonian traditional music consisted primarily of Batltic-Finnish runes. After Estonia “awoke,” Estonians began to compose national songs — work songs, ballads and national epics. These songs became such an important part of Estonian culture that during the Soviet period singing them became an act of authoritarian opposition. (More about Estonian singing below.)

More information:
Interested in Estonian music? Try Estmusic.com | The Estonian National Awakening | “The fierce music of Estonia, Latvia” | Vennaskond: Estonian punk from the ’80s

— Linthanian music:

Lithuanian’s ancient music is pagan and ritual in nature and is often vocally based, like the sutartinės of northwestern Lithuania which villagers sang at festivals, weddings and during work. There were in fact many kinds of Lithuanian work songs, each of which had its own syncopation depending on the work being done: herding songs, haymaking songs, rye harvesting songs, oat harvesting, flax and buckwheat pulling and hemp gathering songs, milling songs, spinning and weaving songs, laundering songs, fishing and hunting songs, berry picking songs and mushroom gathering songs. Today, Lithuanian musicians play folk, rock, punk, jazz and almost all other genres, and probably sing much less about hay.

During the Soviet era underground rock became extremely popular as a form of authoritarianism resistance. Today the Soviets are gone but Lithuanian rock is alive and well.

More information:
Wikipedia in detail on the music of Lithuania | Lithuanian sutartinės: there are three kinds:
* Dvejinės are sung by two singers or two groups of singers.
* Trejinės are performed by three singers in strict canon.
* Keturinės are sung by two pairs of singers.
(“Turėja Liepa” from our CD is one of Linthania’s trejinės.)

Latvian music:

Most of Latvian traditional music is pre-Christian and based on short, unrhymed poems called “dainas,” most of which concern themselves with stories about the sun goddess Saule or the moon god Meness, or about the lives of people at ceremonies surrounding birth, marriage and death.

Music in Latvia: Do Latvians owe it all to their commitment to music education? | Lovely Latvian music performed in the woods by kokle-player Laima Jansome

In class we’re going to listen to:

— “Pidu, Pidu” by RO:TORO
RO:TORO bills itself as “ethnic Estonian bagpipes meet modern saxophone and self-made water-bowl percussion.” The bagpipes also meet an electric guitar on the way, and in the process transform ancient Estonian folk into enjoyable modern Estonian neo-folk.

More information:
RO:TORO’s English-language website | See RO:TORO perform live — bagpipes, electric guitar and all

— “Mis Vark On” by Def Räädu
So you say you’re unfamiliar with Estonian rap…? Def Räädu wants to change that. If you like “reggae, dub, trip hop, house and jazzy flavored beats with a rock steady groove,” you’ll like Def Räädu. If you like all those things and happen to be one of the million or so people in the world who speak Estonian, you’ll love them.

More information:
Def Räädu’s official bio: “a unique mixture of nordic climate, bumpin beats and all good things in this world.” | Visit Def Räädu on MySpace | Def Räädu live: white hats, plastic bottles and oil drums, oh my!

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