Friday, September 5, 2008

First Week in Vilnius

After moving into my apartment and getting acquianted with the most basic aspects of living in Vilnius, I actually have been able to move ahead quite a bit with the project. I met with most of my contacts, including Rytis Mažulis, the head of the composition department at the Academy, Feliksas Bajoras, and Osvaldas Balakauskas.

I was even able to bring in the recordings of my grandfather's songs to the ethnomusicology department. The head of the department, Dr. Daiva Vyčinienė, listened to each song and described its possible origin, the meaning of the text, and, in the case of the more well-known songs, whether his singing mirrored closely the most widely sung variant of a particular song. Given my grandfather's age (87 and 91) at the time the recordings were made, it was difficult for him to sing without wavering in pitch, but Dr. Vyčinienė assured me that one of her students would help to transcribe both the text and pitches.

This weekend I will be traveling by train and bicycle to villages near the town of Zervynos, in Dzūkija, the southeastern region of Lithuania, to observe (and perhaps participate in) fieldwork done by the ethnomusicology department's students. The students will be traveling in groups to small villages in the area to record some of Lithuania's oldest songs. Dr. Vyčinienė explained to me that because the only people living in Lithuanian villages are quite old, it is important for their students to collect as many songs as possible, since most of the younger people have moved to the cities and are not interested in learning these songs.

On Monday I will find out more about my prospective librettist, and next week I will begin meeting regularly with Prof. Balakauskas and taking a class on Lithuanian music and a Lithuanian language course. I currently do not have regular internet access, but I hope that will change in the near future. Then I'll be able to upload some pictures and write longer and more detailed posts.

No comments: