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by World Music Network November 23, 2011


UNESCO: Intangible Cultural Heritage Inscriptions 2011

UNESCOThe Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage who are meeting in Bali, Indonesia, until 29 November, are in final days of the process to inscribe new elements to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Representative Lists for 2011.

The Committee meets annually to evaluate nominations proposed by States Parties to the 2003 Convention and decide whether or not to inscribe those cultural practices and expressions of intangible heritage on the Convention’s Lists.

The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding is composed of elements that require urgent measures to keep them alive (eleven have been added so far this year), while the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity consists of those practices and expressions that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance (of which nineteen have been added this year). 

A few inscriptions of a musical nature are detailed below, but click here to check out the full list.

xionXoan singing of Phú Th? Province, Vietnam: Traditionally, singers from Xoan guilds performed songs in sacred spaces such as temples, shrines and communal houses for the spring festivals. Each Xoan guild is headed by a leader, referred to as the trùm. Although only four traditional guilds remain, in recent years the singing has been taken up by clubs and other performing groups. Knowledge, customs and techniques for singing, dancing and playing drum and clappers are traditionally transmitted orally by the guild leader, the majority of bearers are now over sixty years in age, and the numbers of people who appreciate Xoan singing have decreased, particularly among the younger generations.

fadoFado, urban popular song of Portugal: A performance genre incorporating music and poetry widely practised by various communities in Lisbon. It represents a Portuguese multicultural synthesis of Afro-Brazilian sung dances, local traditional genres of song and dance, musical traditions from rural areas of the country brought by successive waves of internal immigration, and the cosmopolitan urban song patterns of the early nineteenth century. Fado is performed professionally on the concert circuit and in small ‘Fado houses’, and by amateurs in numerous grass-root associations located throughout older neighbourhoods of Lisbon. Informal tuition by older, respected exponents takes place in traditional performance spaces and often over successive generations within the same families.

mariachiMariachi, string music, song and trumpet:  Traditional Mexican music and a fundamental element of Mexican culture. Traditional Mariachi groups, made up of two or more members, wear regional costumes adapted from the charro costume and interpret a broad repertoire of songs on stringed instruments. Learning by ear is the main means of transmission of traditional Mariachi, and the skill is usually passed down from fathers to sons and through performance at festive, religious and civil events. Mariachi music transmits values of respect for the natural heritage of the regions of Mexico and local history in the Spanish language and the different Indian languages of Western Mexico.

croatiaBe?arac music from eastern Croatia: The music conveys community values, but also enables singers to express thoughts and feelings that might be inappropriate if uttered directly or in other contexts. Each lead singer shapes his or her performance according to the context, with the performance lasting as long as the creativity and energy of the singers permit. Nowadays, men and women are almost equally represented among tradition bearers. The Be?arac is spread widely throughout eastern Croatian communities and remains part of living practice – whether in completely informal situations of music-making or in contemporary festive events and celebrations.