Urban song of Shkodra – A general overview.
Urban song of Shkodra is a valuable artistic national treasure. The repertoire is rich and diverse, born in certain environments and historic circumstances. Like fine jewellery, the beautiful melodies of Shkodra were created by masters and polished over time by the people of the Northern Albanian city by being passed from generation to generation through oral tradition. Many of these songs are hundreds of years old, such as the Shtregullat (Sung Dances) which are a cappella songs performed in the gardens of traditional Shkodra houses for wedding rituals, Spring festivities and other family celebrations. In addition to the Shtregullat, the musical folklore of the city of Shkodra also includes Aheng (one of the 7 Masterpieces of National Spiritual Heritage), music that the folk masters of Shkodra have inherited and passed on from generation to generation, continuously increasing the expression, strength and beauty of the sound. Aheng was born out of the need for a celebratory music that gave a different perspective to Shtregullat, and to update traditional musical styles to reflect a new reality brought about by the development of the city in the 18th and 19th centuries.The music is a product of Shkodra’s history, combining Albanian traditional musical styles with influences brought to Albania by the Ottoman Empire. As difficult as it is to create musical traditions, it is equally difficult to preserve these traditions and pass them on to future generations without being influenced by external cultures. However, It should be emphasised that the people of Shkodra not only like their music, but also fanatically preserve the originality of the Shkodra Aheng as it is a vital part of the identity of being from Shkodra.
We must be careful about the preservation and transmission of this tradition with all its constituent elements, and for this reason it is necessary that we continue in the preservation of this music that has rightly been declared a Masterpiece of the Albanian Spiritual Heritage.
Prepared and summarized by Bardhyl Hysa
Edited by Peadar Connolly-Davey.