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Songbirds: Albanian Music From 78s 1924-1948 (Various Artists)
CD 
Price: $27.10
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Songbirds: Albanian Music From 78s 1924-1948 (Various Artists) on CD

Albania holds several groups of people within it's borders. The primary division lies between Ghegs, who inhabit the territory north of the Shkumbin river, and Tosks, who live south of it. There are only a small number of songs on this collection that might be labelled as 'Gheg' - characterized by monophony, well-defined rhythm and musical accompaniment (today often a two-stringed chifteli). The most distinctly so feature a single, strident voice and a triumphal tone that recalls the northern tradition of epic poetry. The Tosk musical dialect is defined by polyphony, imitative melodic lines and, prior to urbanization, a total absence of musical accompaniment. The Tosk sub-dialect is heavily represented in this collection, particularly by the Asllani family of Leskovik, who not only recorded prolifically but were also responsible for three of the labels represented on this collection. The eldest brother, Ajdin, owned and operated both MI-RE and ME-RE and, finally, BALKAN, making recordings in New York, Detroit, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Athens, and Istanbul. Most of the music is drawn from a very distinct 'acoustic niche' in a very particular place, southern Albania-a topography, a way of life-in a dialect laid down, layer upon layer, from parent to child, over many hundreds of years. This music is rendered in a musical dialect both very rich and very close to home. Imagine the former inhabitants of Leskovik coming home at the end of a long day pulling their grocery cart through the streets of Boston to drop the needle on one of these 78s, or tuning in to Nuçi Cujo's radio hour, and hearing their song. We may not have heard this song before, but with a little training conflict gives way to a singular harmony, and emotions ring crystal clear.