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Music of Latvia

Latvian music is 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 goddes Saule, the moon god Meness and a strong patriarchal god, Janis. The first collection of dainas was published between 1894 and 1915 as Latvju Dainas by Krišjānis Barons.

Other forms of newer instrument included the German-influenced zinge, dziesma and balss. Accompanying village songs (sadzīves) 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.