Sutartinės (from the word sutarti – to be in concordance) are a form of polyphonic music performed by female singers in northeast Lithuania.
The songs have simple melodies, with two to five pitches, and comprise two distinct parts: a meaningful main text and a refrain that may include nonce words. There are almost forty different styles and ways of performing sutartinės. Mainly, they can be performed by two singers in parallel seconds; by three singers in strict canon, all performing both phrases of the melody at staggered intervals; or by two groups of singers, the lead singer of each pair singing the main text, while the partner sings the refrain, before the second pair repeats. The poetic texts encompass many themes, including work, calendar rituals, weddings, family, wars, history and moments of daily life. Choreography is uncomplicated and movements are moderate, often austere, such as walking in the form of a circle or star while linking arms and stamping feet.
Sutartinės are performed on solemn occasions, as well as at festivals, concerts and social gatherings. Their performance promotes the sharing of cultural values and provides a feeling of cultural identity, continuity and self-esteem. Sutartinės are usually sung by women, but men perform instrumental versions on pan pipes, horns, long wood trumpets, fipple flutes and plucked zithers.
Sutartinės, Lithuanian multipart songs, were added in 2008 to the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage Values of UNESCO, amongst other reasons because they are deeply rooted in the community, transmitted from grandmother to granddaughter and now to broader audiences, and provide their practitioners with a sense of identity and continuity.