The Pride of Traditional Georgian Chant

It is well known that Georgian chants are an integral part of Georgian folk songs, a fact recognized worldwide, a direction without which Georgian culture is unimaginable. In the Folklore State Center of Georgia, the sheet recordings of chanting are being digitizalized in order to strengthen this art.

The material description together with a specially created database will be placed in the electronic space to make it available to any interested person. The unique project to preserve this Georgian treasure found in various archives, to digitalize the handwritten notes of traditional charts and put them together with a scientific description online, is being implemented by the Folklore State Center of Georgia.

“The traditional Georgian chant is one of the unique things we are proud of,” said Giorgi Donadze, Director of the Folklore State Center. “So far, about 30,000 pages have been digitalized, which has taken a lot of time and finances. It is no easy task, as each sheet in the Institute of Manuscripts and the National Archives is scanned using the best equipment. We created a website, so the digitized materials can be made available for both Georgians and foreigners. All interested persons can see what the manuscript looks like.”

The next project, which will be implemented in 2019, will be the Anthology of the foundation ‘Georgian Chant.’ Two volumes have been published to date, with eight more in the pipeline. Specialists of the Folklore State Center, Tbilisi State Conservatoire and ‘Georgian Chant’ Fund will work jointly. In the course of preparing the anthology, the Folklore Center digitalization project will be employed. In fact, the anthology project is a follow-on stage of the digitalization project of the chant manuscripts.

“We have invested huge resources in the ten-volume Georgian traditional chants anthology. High-level specialists work to publish from the Tbilisi State Conservatoire and Folklore Center. It’s a colossal job- each volume consists of 700-800 pages and is totally unique,” Donadze noted.

The Anthology of Georgian Chants aims to present, in academic style, all samples of the sheeted Georgian traditional chanting of the 19-20th centuries. The edition is intended for choristers, choral collectors, researchers and ecclesiastical music lovers.

The database and description of annoted manuscripts of Georgian chants (up to 23,000 pages) was first digitalized in 2015.

Currently, the second stage of the project is underway. Within the framework, manuscripts protected at the National Center of Folklore, the National Archives of Georgia and the Korneli Kekelidze National Center of Manuscripts will be completely digitalized: chants performed by Filimon Koridze, Ekvtime (Estate) Kereselidze, the Karbelashvili Brothers, Razhden Khundadze and other great Georgian figures.

The project (headed by Svimon Jangulashvili) is implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and Fund ‘Georgian Chant’ under the partnership of the National Archives of Georgia and the National Center of Manuscripts. Its purpose is to promote, restore and maintain Georgian traditional polyphony, and popularize it internationally. The publishing of a Georgian chants anthology is based on several key factors: anthology as a scientific-practical edition, which aims as far as possible to bring together all the chants of Georgian chanting tradition. For this purpose, the chants of the various chapel schools and liturgical choirs (from the above listed sources of chants) will be printed in its collections.

By Mariam Merabishvili

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