Dzukija is a region of scenic pine forests, hills and sandy soils. There is a saying that describes the poverty of this land, "if it wasn't for mushrooms and berries, Dzukija's girls wouldn't have clothes". However, it is said that from this hardship arose the Dzukai peoples' sincerity, sensitivity, gentleness and friendliness. Traditions survived the longest in this region. Dzukija also boasts the richest wealth of songs in Lithuania, representing many genres and variations of melody types. With little exception, the only surviving calendar cycle songs are found in Dzukija. Southern Dzukija is exceptional in the number of Advent and Christmas songs that can still be found there. Many Shrovetide, St. George's day and swinging songs arose from the small area of eastern Dzukija. Archaic antiphonic songs performed by two alternating groups of singers were also native to this area.
Single-voiced (or heterophonic) and solo songs are common throughout Dzukija. Solo singing is characterized by its individuality. One flexible melody can have many variants which acquire new meandering elements from one singer and time to the next. Wedding and burial laments are sorrowful, drawn out improvisations. Double voiced songs of later origin are also characteristic of Dzukija.
Today, songs from a wide variety of modes only exist in Dzukija; in addition to the widely known major and minor, these include the phrygian and other ancient (so-called Greek) modes. Here are two melodies from Dzukija. One is an archaic melody based on a third and the second a broadly, gracefully ringing one:
Click to view lyrics 23 kb.
Instruments found in Dzukija are mostly those common throughout Lithuania; this region does not have any types unique to it alone. The bagpipe survived somewhat longer in this region than in others.
Dzukija, well known for its calendar cycle songs, is also home to unique Advent ring dances and games which contain many references to weddings.
"LITHUANIAN ROOTS", Edited by Rytis Ambrazevicius