Music of Latvia


Traditional musicis dominated by folk songs called dainas, featuring pre-Christian themes and legends, drone vocal styles and Baltic zithers

Dainas are very short, usually only one or two stanzas, unrhymed and in a four-footed trochaic metre. Lyrically, dainas concern themselves with native mythology but, in contrast to most similar forms, does not have any legendary heroes. Stories often revolve around pre-Christian deities like the sun goddess Saule, the moon god Menessand, most notably, the life of people, especially its three most important events - birth, wedding and death (including burial). The first collection of dainas was published between 1894and 1915 as Latvju Dainas by Krišjānis Barons.

Other forms of newer instrument included the German-influenced zinge. Accompanying village songs is various traditional instruments, the most important of which is the kokle, or zither. In the 1970s artists like Jānis Porikis and Valdis Muktupāvels led a revival in kokle music, which had only survived in the Kurzeme region. The Latvian-exile community abroad, especially in the United States, has also kept kokle traditions alive.




  • (cordofoni) kokle (zither)

  • (aerofoni)

  • (ancia libera)

  • (membranofoni)

  • (idiofoni)

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