Geographically Albania is divided into two main regions: northern Ghegeria and southern Toskeria. The southern part (Toskeria) consists of two sub-regions, Toske and Laberia. These share many commonalities yet the musical styles of each are distinctly different. The Shkumbini River serves as a boundary between the two main regions, as well as a cultural divide distinguishing the varying musical performances and styles. Monodic music is practiced mainly in the north whilst polyphonic music is most commonly performed in the south. These two diverse systems impact on the folk songs of the two regions making them sound significantly different. In addition, different folk instruments are used in both regions. The instrumental and vocal monodic music of the north (Ghegeria) is based on the modal system, with Dorian, Aeolian, Mixolydian, Phrygian, Lydian, Ionian and Hypolydian modes being used. The songs of the north typically portray important historical events or heroic deeds, while the southern songs are not as nationalistic and cover various social themes. They are in general a lot softer and more melodic in character. The folk music of the south (Toskeria) is based on the pentatonic scale, with significant differences which are noticed within the two sub-regions (Toske and Laberia). The vocal music of the south consists of two, three or four vocal parts singing a capella, although sometimes instrumental accompaniment is added. The polyphonic music of the sub-region of Toske is characterized by imitative elements utilized in both the melodies and rhythms of the songs, providing a sense of thematic unity, whereas in Laberia contrasting elements are more dominant throughout the songs. Despite these differences, iso (or drone) is performed similarly in both sub-regions, and is another important element in the polyphonic music of the south. A notable form of instrumental polyphonic music of Toskeria is that of Kaba, performed by Saze folk ensembles. What distinguishes Albanian polyphonic folk music from its counterparts in other areas of the world is that it has not only survived but is flourishing in modern times. Unlike many other cultures that have excluded polyphonic music from mainstream society, Albanian polyphonic music is known by most Albanians and is well practiced and enjoyed by all age groups, and rural as well as urban Albanians, regardless of their degree of formal musical training
Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2011.