Logo ODA Japan2006-2010: Japan finances the project
"Safeguarding of the Albanian Folk Iso-Polyphony"

UNESCO has started to implement the Project entitled “Safeguarding of Albanian Folk Iso-Polyphony”. This cultural expression was proclaimed Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.


This Project is financed under the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust for the Preservation and Promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage .



Context and Objectives of the project:


Folk Iso-Polyphony is a form of traditional music of Albania . Most of the villages and towns have an iso-polyphony band. “Iso” refers to the drone accompanying the singing. Rendered principally by male singers, it is performed during social events (weddings, harvest feast, funerals, religious celebrations, festivals, etc.). It is practised in the south of Albania and is typical for two large areas: Toskeria and Labëria. If both Tosk and Lab polyphonic songs include ballads, historic songs, lyrical songs, etc, they perform the drone differently. The Tosks perform the drone continuously and sung on the syllable “e”, while the Labs sometimes sing the drone as a rhythmic tone.


Traditionally, iso-polyphony in the southern part of Albania has been transmitted form parents to children, but large-scale migrations due to economic hardship have caused the discontinuation of this mode of transmission. The development of cultural tourism, as well us the interest of researchers, have contributed to a certain revival of the tradition, but measures need to be taken to support the promotion and revitalisation of Albanian i so-polyphony.


The objectives of this thirty-month Project (December 2006 – March 2010) are to reinforce the national and local capacity for safeguarding this music, and encourage the transmission of iso-polyphony by adapting the traditional mode of transmission to modern realities.


Activities foreseen


The project's activities include:


- The building of national capacities for the safeguarding and transmission of intangible heritage (creation of a steering committee, training seminar for national experts on digitalization, archiving and management of digital archives)


- Documentation and inventorying (creation of a register, electronic database and a catalogue of outstanding performers)


- Public awareness-raising activities (creation of the “Iso-polyphony Journal” which includes a CD-Rom in each issue)


This project will contribute to build local and national capacities to enable sustainable safeguarding of iso-polyphony.





UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust for the Preservation and Promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage


Masterpieces proclaimed in 2005 - Safeguarding of the Albanian Folk Iso-Polyphony



人類の口承及び無形遺産の傑作の宣言 (2005年)


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