Voices of the Future: New Trends in the Popularisation, Transmission and Practice of Folk Song in Georgia (Caucasus)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationResearch


This paper offers an analysis of recent developments in the transmission and popularisation of traditional song and dance in Georgia. The extraordinary vitality of traditional music activity in Georgia today builds on the renaissance set in motion by UNESCO’s proclamation of Georgian Polyphonic Singing as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity (2001), with participation continuing to grow and diversify. The paper is informed by my latest period of fieldwork (May–November 2022), when my investigations included family ensembles, ensembles supported by municipal cultural centres, a newly established nation-wide network of ‘songmaster schools’ for children and youth overseen by the State Folklore Centre, the 2022 edition of the National Folklore Festival organised by the State Folklore Centre, and a national competition-style festival of youth choirs overseen by the Georgian Choral Society. Alongside observations about repertoire choices, sources and teaching methods, I explore (i) the significance of Georgia’s lively festival culture, (ii) the vital role played by social media with regard to popularisation and accessibility, (iii) the creation of diverse opportunities for young people to participate in informal music-making in traditional contexts, as well as in more visible staged performances of ‘folklore’, and (iv) the ways in which individual, grassroots initiatives complement top-down government strategies to create a favourable environment for musical sustainability. My theorisation of these trends speaks to current issues in ethnomusicology and heritage studies. The paper is supported by original audio-visual materials.
Period25 Feb 2023
Event titleFolk Singing Symposium
Event typeConference
LocationSheffield, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational