Five women – Daina Norvaišytė, Eglė Sereičikienė, Rima Visackienė, Daiva Vyčinienė (lead), and Audronė Žilinskienė – specialise in the performance of original Lithuanian polyphonic songs called sutartinės. These songs stand out from the rest of Lithuanian folklore due to their use of seconds, entwined voices, accentuated rhythmical patterns and the simultaneous sound of two different texts (main and refrain). All these qualities of polyphonic songs require an extraordinary degree of concord between the performers, a habit of singing together or sutarimas (the name sutartinės is derived from the verb sutarti – to agree, to accord). Thus, it is not by accident that sutartinės have traditionally been sung in small groups (two, three or four women).
Trys Keturiose was founded in 1982 by Daiva Račiūnaitė-Vyčinienė at the Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis Art School. The composition of the group then changed in subsequent years. “Trys keturiose (“three in four”) are the words of one refrain that playfully reflects the group’s composition, which varies between three and four singers.
The group – also known as “the queens of sutartinės” – has been perfecting the performance of old polyphonic songs for 20 years. They are also working to reconstruct melodies that are held in archives. The singers do not copy the sutartinės sound of the archive records, but seek to retain the authentic colour. They attempt to understand the archaic tradition of the language, experience deep spiritual and aesthetic sensations, and convey these emotions to the modern listener. They also seek linkages with contemporary arts and collaborate with composers and media artists.
The most preferable and traditional form of sutartinės involves singing without accompanying instrumentation – chanting as contemplation. Chanting a cappella offers the possibility to listen carefully to each other’s voices, rhythmic pulsations, syllable pronunciation, potential common “breathing” and the creation of special harmony. However, the modern interpretation of sutartinės commonly involves various types of accompaniment (folk-rock, folk-jazz, etc.).
Sutartinės were inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.