Several strokes for a song portrait

Povilas Krikščiūnas

An attempt is made to reveal in the present paper how typical singing folklore traits in Aukštaitija (Upper Lithuanian) area are (or not) reflected in the material used by those who compiled the material for the book. On the ground of Panemunėlis area folklore collections stored in the Manuscript Depositary of the Lithuanian Literature and Folklore Institute of Manuscripts, the author was searching for reflections of local life, peculiarities in song poetry and stylistics. To define the spreading area of songs and their variations, he used the catalogue of Lithuanian folk song texts; its system was created in the above Institute.

The analytical description method has been applied in the paper, not forgetting comparison of texts. Not all texts, which intrigued the author, are published in the Archive Funds; they are not easily available for some readers, especially those living in the country; therefore numerous citations are given, sometimes with repetition of similar texts.

The author selected the citations intentionally. These are typical samples of folklore in Aukštaitija and Rokiškis area, or some more impressing local creations. They are harmonious components in general panorama of the folklore creations. The area of Panemunėlis was notable for inventive lyricists, which felt the traditions of olden poetry and realised them in their creations reflecting local life, historical events, traditions and habits.

Features of old local material stand out the best against a background of the repertoire of a whole of nation or an ethnographic region. The regional type is attributable to creations of certain genres (e.g., glees), songs about historical events (e.g., revolutions). The life of real areas is reflected in songs, which can be varying but making realities actual by mentioning names of places and/or individuals, personal habits or adventures. This is illustrated by citations from songs recorded in Panemunėlis and neighbouring areas.

The material discussed reveals the tendency of modernisation in songs observable in the entire Lithuania, and it was Panemunėlis area, where the writing culture tradition had significant influence on it. This tradition entrenched the recent songs and gradually replaced the creations of the olden layer. Here one can observe the changes in literary and musical taste of Panemunėlis people, which still remember some labour, calendar and ceremony songs, but love romances as well as humoristic literary or anonymous, moralising songs prevail. Such shifts in the second half of the 20th century make no news in Lithuania and all East European countries as a general process still going on.