Albania – exhibition

Albanian Iso-polyphony is an epic form of the oral art of singing in Albania, one of the world’s most ancient a capella singing traditions, which has its origin in ancient times and can be traced to the Illyrians, the ancestors of modern Albanians.

Albanian iso-polyphony is characterized by songs consisting of two solo parts, a melody and a countermelody with a choral drone. It is practised in the south of Albania and is typical for two large areas: Toskëria and Labëria. “Iso” refers to the drone accompanying the singing.  The drone is performed in two ways: among the Tosks, it is always continuous and sung on the syllable ’e’, using staggered breathing, while among the Labs, the drone is sometimes sung as a rhythmic tone, performed to the text of the song. Rendered principally by male singers, it is performed during social events (weddings, harvest feast, funerals, religious celebrations, festivals, etc.)

On November 25th, 2005, Albanian iso-polyphonic folk music joined the list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” protected by UNESCO.

Folk Music Instruments Craftsmanship is a special distinct craft among the whole Albanian crafts. The folk musical instruments were handcrafted by the performers themselves within each family and in special cases by the folklore transmitters. This tradition continued until the end of 19th century – beginning of 20th century, time when the first stores crafting and selling musical instruments started to emerge.

Hand crafted Albanian musical instruments include many types such as: “gajde”, “fyell”, “cyrle dyjare”, “çifteli”, “sharkí”, “lahuta”, “dajre”, drum, “zumare”, “laurí”, “buzuk”, “bakllamá” etc. Initially the artisans who crafted such instruments worked also in other types of products of crafts. The specialization of artisans only in this art of craft started in the 20th century. Even after World War II, the art of handcrafted production of musical instruments continued in a production unit in Tirana for the needs of public cultural activities in Albania.