Was singing necessary in the Baltic Singing Revolution, 1988-1991?

Guntis Šmidchens, University of Washington Baltic Studies Program


The nonviolent Baltic Singing Revolution’s “people power” came from singing. Exactly how this happened is a problem that scholars of Baltic history have not yet resolved. Song performers and music therapy scholars offer useful leads. In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the literal meaning of songs’ words was often less important than singing’s physical effect on singers: The act of singing raised and released emotions of love, self esteem, and courage, which in turn motivated individuals to join the nonviolent movement even when the Soviet government unleashed public violence. The movement could emerge and grow thanks to a large shared repertoire of songs—the result of more than a century of public singing traditions. Community based, noncompetitive singing continues to be at the heart of Baltic choral song festivals today.

What ideas can the Chorosynthesis project borrow and adapt?

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