Traditional Lithuanian dances and instruments

WeddingDances. Folk choreography is a part of folklore and it is as original as all nation’s folklore is original. Folk choreography is the creative work of the people where artistic images are created by rhythmical movements followed by vocal or instrumental music. Folk choreography as well as other branches of the folk art has always been closely related to the mode of life, work and customs of the nation.

Dance was also a part of ancient Lithuanian calendar celebrations and rituals. The Lithuanians named each of their dances. Circular or ring dances (rateliai), games (zaidimai) and paired dances (sokiai) were performed for parties and celebrations, as were polyphonic singing dances (Sutartiniu sokiai), which paired specific dance steps with archaic songs. One style of Lithuanian folk dance is called rateliai, a type of dance in the round. Prior to the 19th century, the dances were performed without musical accompaniment. Since that time, however, fiddles, basetles, lamzdeliai and kankles have become standard accompaniments.

Instruments. The skuduciai are made of umbelliferous plants or wood. Shorter-lived skuduciai are made from various grass-like reeds. Sturdier forms are made of ash, black alder, alder, or willow wood. The wooden rods are cut into pieces of varied length. The number of whistles varies, but a typical set has five to eight. The whistles are hollowed out either by burning or carving, leaving the bottom closed. If the entire whistle is hollow, then the bottom is closed off with a fixed or movable stopper.

For skuduciai made of umbelliferous plants, the joints of the plants close off the bottom of the whistle. The open ends of each whistle are cut on both sides at a sloping angle. A single whistle produces only one note. There are two basic means of tuning the skuduciai: (1) the length of the shortest whistle is determined by ear. To it are added the second, third, fourth etc. skuduciai, tuned at intervals of a second. (2) whistles are tuned at intervals of a second, beginning with the longest whistle (which plays the lowest note).

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