Peculiarities of the singing traditions in Gelvonai region 


Daiva Vyčinienė


The article deals with singing traditions in Gelvonai region. The songs of this region are especially interesting from the musical point of view. A great variety of different musical styles is typical, i.e. monophony (some one-voice tunes are comparable to monophony in Dzūkija region, while other tunes make an original group characteristic of Gelvonai area), homophony and polyphony (glee). The full variety of genres and styles of this region is best reflected in the notes made by a prominent pre-war folklore collector Juozas Kartenis. Ethnomusicologists give high evaluation of not only his song repertoire notable for the variety of genres and styles, but also the notes put down at nearly each song. The notes enable us to judge about the specific manner the Gelvonai area people used to sing in the first half of the 20th c.: polyphonic (diphonic) singing, one-voice singing bass in two sounds, and heterophonic singing.

Reviewing the Gelvonai area song repertoire, different folklore layers are discussed. The old one-voice tune layer comprises threnodies (keening the dead or wedding crying), rye harvest songs, flax tearing and wedding ceremony songs. Beside the archaic one-voice tunes, later there were also monophonic songs, which often are of a minor type. Minor tunes associate with the Dzūkija region traditions. Nevertheless, the analysis of the tunes showed that only a part of Gelvonai area songs were the versions of the tunes popular in Dzūkija. The rest is made of original tunes reflecting their specificity in this special region (or a broader East Aukštaitija area). 

One of the distinguishing features for the Gelvonai area is thought to be the anhemitonal sound-series without the 4th degree. This is considered to be the intonation basis for many one-voice or multi-voice tunes.

In order to make the comprehensive study of Gelvonai melodies and make their valid generalisation, significantly more tunes should be embraced in the study, and to compare the local song tunes with those of the adjacent regions. The fact is that the original song tunes in the Širvintos area are hardly ever studied by the ethnomusicologists. Moreover, detailed studies of musical peculiarities in the border areas between Dzūkija and East Aukštaitija should be done. Original features of Gelvonai musical folklore most likely would be manifested then.