Recording Studio: Albania is a Southeast European nation that was ruled by Enver Hoxha’s communist government for much of the later part of the 20th century; it is now a democratic country. Even before Hoxha’s reign began, Albania was long controlled by the Ottoman Empire and other conquering powers, leading to a diversity of influences that is common in the much-fragmented Balkan region and resulting in a diverse and unique musical sound. Albanians (and the ethnic-Albanian Kosovars of nearby Serbia) are commonly divided into three groupings: the northern Ghegs and southern Labs and Tosks. Turkish influence is strongest around the capital city, Tirana, while Shkodër has been long considered the centre for musical development in Albania.
Recording Studio: The importance of music in Albania
Music has always been a potent means of national expression for Albanians. Under Hoxha‘s regime, this was channeled into songs of patriotic devotion to the party; since the arrival of democracy in 1991, lyrics have come to focus on long-suppressed traditions like gurbet (seeking work outside of Albania) and support for various political parties, candidates and ideas. Pop musicians have developed too, long banned under the socialists, with Ardit Gjebrea being foremost among them. Albanian popular music (këngë popullore) is generally based on Italian models.
Recording Studio: Albanian Folk Music
Folk music was encouraged to some degree under the socialist government, which promoted a quinquennial music festival at Gjirokastër provided that the musicians expressed frequent support for the party leaders. After the fall of socialism, Albanian Radio-Television launched a 1995 festival in Berat that has helped to continue musical traditions.
Albanian recording studio folk music falls into three sylistic groups, with other important music areas around Shkoder 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”, as well as certain characteristics like the use of obscure rhythms such as 3/8, 5/8 and 10/8.