City of Batumi, Georgia
City of Batumi, Georgia

Polyphonic Music in Georgia

The country of Georgia is rich in history and cultural tradition. It is known for its stunning landscapes that span the Caucasus mountains and border the Black Sea as well as its impressive archaeology and architecture that have inspired countless empires to build fortresses and cathedrals dating back millennia. Moreover, in terms of intangible heritage, Georgian culture is inextricable tied to its traditional music. A community being linked to its music is, in and of itself, not unique; however, the renowned polyphonic tones that lend themselves to the composition of Georgian music are indeed unique in the world.

While the technical term ‘polyphonic’ refers to music that has more than one part, it is more commonly understood as layering tones that consist of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody. It is traditionally sung in three parts with strong dissonances, parallel fifths, and a unique tuning system based on perfect fifths. Within the context of the Western musical tradition, the term polyphony is usually used to refer to music dating from the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. However, in the country of Georgia, their particular style of music dates back much further than the Renaissance and the Middle Ages and is, in fact, the oldest polyphony in the Christian world. Their music has remained a constant in the face of external discord, tumultuous political change, and the ever-changing tides of cultural shifts. The enduring nature of Georgian music is surely inspirational. This is perhaps the reason as to why UNESCO inscribed Georgian polyphonic singing on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

In Georgian communities all over the world, their music is a connecting cultural trait that links them back to their country and it is a skill that Georgian families instill into the younger generations. In fact, one need only browse Youtube or Instagram to view countless recordings and videos of the older and the younger generations alike singing traditional songs and composing new ones for the modern musical age.

If we have piqued your musical interest, we invite you to join us on our tour to Georgia. We have departures in both 2019 and 2020 so now is the time to book and witness this beautiful music for yourself!

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Polyphonic Music in Georgia was published on August 20 2019