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Albanian folk music falls into three sylistic groups, with other important music areas around Shkodër and Tirana; the major groupings are the Ghegs of the north and southern Labs and Tosks. The northern and southern traditions are contrasted by the "rugged and heroic" tone of the north and the "relaxed, gentle and exceptionally beautiful" form of the south. These disparate styles are unified by "the intensity that both performers and listeners give to their music as a medium for patriotic expression and as a vehicle carrying the narrative of oral history".

Albanian folk songs can be divided into major groups, the heroic epics of the north, and the sweetly melodic lullabies, love songs, wedding music, work songs and other kinds of song. The music of various festivals and holidays is also an important part of Albanian folk song. Lullabies and laments are very important kinds of Albanian folk song, and are generally performed by solo women.

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The Ghegs from north of the Shkumbini River are known for a distinctive variety of sung epic poetry. Many of these are about Skanderbeg, a legendary 15th century warrior who led the struggle against the Turks, and the "constant Albanian themes of honour, hospitality, treachery and revenge". These traditions are a form of oral history for the Ghegs, and also "preserve and inculcate moral codes and social values".
Styles of epics also include the këngë trimash/kreshnikësh (Songs of brave men/frontier warriors), ballads and Vajtims maje krahi (cries). Major epics include Mujo and Halil and Halil and Hajrije.
The most traditional variety of epic poetry is the Albanian Songs of the Frontier Warriors. These epic poems are sung, accompanied by a lahuta, a one-stringed fiddle.
Somewhat further south, around Dibër and Kërçovë in Macedonia, the lahuta is not used, replaced by the çifteli, a two-stringed instrument in which one string is used for the drone and one for the melody. Though men are the traditional performers (exception made for the sworn virgins), women have increasingly been taking part in epic balladry.
Along with the def, çifteli and sharki are used in a style of dance and pastoral songs. Homemade wind instruments are traditionally used by shepherds in northern Albania; these include the zumarë, an unusual kind of clarinet. This shepherds' music is "melancholic and contemplative" in tone. The songs called maje-krahi are another important part of North Albanian folk song; these were originally used by mountaineers to communicate over wide distances, but are now seen as songs. Maje-krahi songs require the full range of the voice and are full of "melismatic nuances and falsetto cries".

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Southern Albanian music is soft and gentle, and polyphonic in nature. Vlorë in the southwest has perhaps the most unusual vocal traditions in the area, with four distinct parts (taker, thrower, turner and drone) that combine to create a complex and emotionally cathartic melody. Author Kim Burton has described the melodies as "decorated with falsetto and vibrato, sometimes interrupted by wild and mournful cries". This polyphonic vocal music is full of power that "stems from the tension between the immense emotional weight it carries, rooted in centuries of pride, poverty and oppression, and the strictly formal, almost ritualistic nature of its structure".
South Albania is also known for funeral laments with a chorus and one to two soloists with overlapping, mournful voices.

The Tosk people are known for ensembles consisting of violins, clarinets and def.
Southern instrumental music includes the sedate kaba, an ensemble-driven by a clarinet or violin alongside accordions and llautës. The kaba is an improvised and melancholic style with melodies that Kim Burton describes as "both fresh and ancient", "ornamented with swoops, glides and growls of an almost vocal quality", exemplifying the "combination of passion with restraint that is the hallmark of Albanian culture."

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Traditional music in Kosovo


Rapsodi is a special traditional music genre. Rapsodi are poetry mainly about homeland,war and famous warriors. They are always accompanied with instruments such as Ciftelia or Sharkia.In a special way, they are patriotic songs which are dedicated to brave warriors,continuous wars against the Turkish and Serbia. Rapsodi is also known for its charismatic interpretation, for the old traditional Kosovo away from every oriental element that represents, for the clear pronunciation of the word, for his distinctive vocals, gestures, and acting in singing as well. Their topics were very actual because they always tell a homeland story by singing.


Sofrat represents a group of male artists and singers who sing together siting around the table. Their songs are mostly folklore with different social topics which are followed by generations.These songs are accompanied with many instruments.The musicians are also part of sofra. Sofrat, organized into traditional orders represent a precious treasure of cultural heritage in Kosovo.Lots of traditional artists have become famous from their interpretations in Sofra. Depending from the rhythm, sofra songs can be accompanied with various traditional dances. Most popular sofras are Sofra Pejane,Sofra Gjakovare etc. Nowadays, sofra continues to be very popular and present almost in every wedding.It happens to be organized also as a part of cultural program in some cities.


These songs are characteristic for weddings. They're separated on two parts. The first part are Songs for the bride before she gets married. They're usually accompanied with Def - a traditional instrument and are similar to poetry. Most of those songs are original creations that are a moment dedication for that person getting married. The second part are songs for the couple. They are accompanied with lots of instruments and have interesting topics. Some of them express congratulations for the couple, characteristics of living together etc. Wedding Songs usually goes together with specific traditional dance, therefore they are interesting and important because represents also lots of general Kosovar tradition information.

DIRGE (Kenge Vaji)

Its one of the most famous Albanians characteristics. They represent an original and very emotional creations which are dedicated to a close and beloved person after their death.It is specific because its an art born from the suffer. This genre is almost the oldest.It has many variations and it is very popular because it has to do with a special condition that people confront in their daily life. Dirge can be created from one or more persons. The most difficult and rarest variation is The polyphonic Dirge because it needs four participants to be in a harmony.


Lullabies are short poetic monologues, where the parents express their wishes about their children before sleep. The most usual artistic and literary figures that are used are comparison and personification. They're too lyrical. Their characteristic is that most of them start with "Nani-nani djalin/vajzen" or "Nina-nana". Lullabies are the finest representative about expressing parental love and the irreplaceable role of family in Kosovo tradition.

Traditional music instruments


Ciftelia is an original unique instrument in Kosovo. This is a two-stringed instrument in which one string is used for the drone and one for the melody.It's wooden instrument with a small head and a long tail.It is used in a style of dance and pastoral songs, mostly on Kosovo and it is known as a Gheg Instrument. Together with Sharkia it represent a strong traditional instrument and are characteristics of rapsodian genre.


Sharkia it’s a traditional instrument usually with five wire (2+1+2). There are also some other kinds of sharkia, one of them is with 12 wires. Sharkia’s sounds are deep and vibrant. Often this instrument is accompanied with a good part of lyrical and epic songs, as well as various popular traditional dance. Sharkia is known as complex instrument, is used alone or in orchestral formations as the main tool. The most characteristic thing about sharkia, is that the play focuses primarily on the first wire, two others run iso. In entrances and ends of phrases is included the third wire, which gives basic tone. This creates a special effects, which are characteristic of this instrument.


Lahuta is a typical Kosovarian instrument which is formed by an arc and chord consisting horse hair since 1950. Lahuta’s shape is semi-spherical and covered with tanned leather which gripped the sides of its wooden pegs. Lahuta often is decorated with symbols of ancient cults as the head of the goat, snake, or historical figures. Lahuta’s sound is nasal and fits very well with the content of epic songs.

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Albanian folk dances show a very diverse pattern of styles and characteristics, which makes it impossible to make a general description in order to distinguish them as “Albanian” . On one side there are big differences between the dances from the Gheg people in the north and Tosk people in the south, on the other side we have the influences of the neighboring countries and the influences from foreign invaders from the past. In general the folk dances might be divided into two groups: the Urban and Rural dances. The city dances from Tirana, Elbasan, Berat and other cities are very different in character and style than those of the rural areas around those cities. This is also the case with the folk music. The urban style developed differently from the rural regions, which expressed itself in different costumes, music, songs and dances. This urban style had its reflections on neighboring villages also, but not an overall influence to the country side. As for the rural folk dances we might divide them in dances from the North, the South and the Middle of Albania, but no strict borders between these regions. The south is generally divided in Toskëria, Myzeqë, Labëria and Çamëria, but there are specific areas within these regions which have a specific tradition: Lunxhëria, Tepelenës and Zagoria for example. These areas have their specific style and character of folk dances which cannot be classified in the general division and do not match with the overall common folk dances within the region. The North, being Gheg country, is rather clear, the style and character is almost the same in each district, although there are some minor differences. Folk dances from the Tropoja district have a distinct character and style, as also the Dibër district has, but originates from the same source as the other districts in the region. The Middle of Albania is something quite different. Here we find a combination of Gheg and Tosk elements. The ethnic division of Ghegs and Tosks is well illustrated by the difference in dances and costumes, but also in the music accompanying the dances. The music to the dances of the Ghegs is often accompanied by either zurla and tapan (Surle and Lodra in Albanian) , def or daire or orchestra with ciftelije, sharkije and flutes. The ciftelije is unique for the northern Albanian music. The southern Tosk dances are usually accompanied by a “sazet”, an orchestra with def, violin, clarinet, llauto and fiz-harmonika. The central Albanian dances, especially the urban dances are accompanied with orchestras which combine the instrumentation of both northern and southern regions. The clarinet is often leading here, but might be in the company of a tapan (Lodra) or def. In the Myzeqë region a smaller variant to the zurla is also in use. No need to say that in these days the electric key boards have replaced instruments like the gajda and other traditional instruments.

The names of the dances

Although the separate dances had their own names (and some still have) the dances are often named by the region where they come from. The most common form is Valle, but also Vallja is used.
This might cause confusion as one Valle Korçare is not the same dance as another Valle Korçare. Both dances are from the Korça region, but might differ in character and style. Valle Kuksit or Vallja e Kukës are both accepted as names for the same dance. The best way to translate this is Kukës-dance and Dance from Kukës. Especially in Kosovo the old term Kërçim, or shortened to K’cim, is also in use. In order to make it clear which dance is mentioned the title of the song to which the dance is executed, or the specific style or gender of the dancers can be added to the name.The most popular dances are the Valle Pogonishte for whatever festivity, Valle Napoloni for wedding parties, Valle Kuksit and the Valle Shamia e Beqarit, which is the last dance at a wedding party, danced by the bride and groom, burning the bachelor’s kerchief.

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The traditional Albanian polyphonic music can be divided into two major stylistic groups as performed by the Ghegs of northern Albania and Tosks and Labs living in the southern part of the country.
The term iso is related to the ison of Byzantine church music and refers to the drone, which accompanies the polyphonic 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. It can be differentiated between two-, three- and four-voice polyphony. Two-voice iso-polyphony represents the simplest form of Albanian polyphony and is popular all over southern Albania.
Iso-polyphony is practised mainly by men, but there is a number of female singers, too. The music is performed at a wide range of social events, such as weddings, funerals, harvest feasts, religious celebrations and festivals such as the well-known Albanian folk festival in Gjirokastra.
Albanian iso-polyphony is characterised by songs consisting of three parts: two solo parts, a melody and a countermelody with a choral drone. Four-part singing is found less often and only among the Labs. This form consists also of two solo parts, but is accompanied by a double drone, one choral and one solo. The structure of the solo parts differs according to the different ways of performing the drone, but there is also a great variety of structures within the two drone types, especially in the pedal style that is popular with all groups performing this music.
Folk music


Kosovo Albanians are ethnic Albanians with ancestry or descent in the region.

They are Ghegs and speak Gheg Albanian, more specifically the Northern and Northeastern Gheg variants.

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Sitno Kollo do Kolla, tschullo se do Stambola :moony: