Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.C.6

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Hungary has proposed the Safeguarding of the folk music heritage by the Kodály concept (No. 01177) for selection and promotion by the Committee as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention:

Over the past century, the Kodály concept of safeguarding traditional folk music has helped to promote, transmit and document local practices in Hungary and assisted communities abroad for similar purposes. Devised by researcher, composer and pedagogue Zoltán Kodály and supported by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, it advocates: making traditional folk music accessible for everyone through mainstream education and civic organizations; teaching music skills; encouraging everyday use of the music by communities concerned; researching and documenting it using local and international strategies; coexistence between research, education, community culture and composition; and respect for all music traditions. The concept has been incorporated in school curricula since 1945, where primary, secondary and tertiary students can learn about the songs, their importance and are encouraged to take part. It has also been used to document traditional music involving bearers, civic groups and culture institutes like the Institute for Musicology (with 15,000 hours of recorded folk music and 200,000 melodies from over a thousand settlements), Kodály Institute, and the International Kodály Society which also disseminate the concept internationally providing academic programmes where more than 60 countries have participated. The safeguarding concept has also inspired artists to integrate folk music in their compositions.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the programme responds as follows to the criteria for selection as a best safeguarding practice in paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:

P.1:   The file presents the safeguarding of the folk music heritage by the Kodály concept and outlines some of the reasons that led Zoltán Kodály to develop his pedagogical method. It consists in the research, documentation, preservation and publication of the folk music of communities, as well as in a set of other safeguarding measures directly designed to ensure the viability of this musical heritage particularly through formal and non-formal education. The method makes available the systematically collected and scientifically processed folk music material to a wide range of audiences including of course the bearers. The collected folk music material is integrated into both local and national educational curricula and hence contributes to preserving traditional musical forms and ensures the viability of community practice. Thus it contributes to the safeguarding of folk music within its bearer communities and the wider society and it also ensures the transmission of skills and knowledge within these communities.

P.2:   The file states that the Kodály Institute is responsible for the dissemination of the method. In the 40 years of its existence, 4,000 foreign experts from 60 countries are said to have been trained. The International Kodály Society has national member groups in 16 countries and Hungarian music pedagogues have been travelling worldwide to learn about or present the Kodály concept. The concept has become a widespread pedagogical model applied to a wide range of traditional musical repertoires. It has promoted the coordination of efforts for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage at the international level particularly through the way in which traditional musical repertoires are collected, documented and transmitted through the educational system to the younger generations.

P.3:   The Kodály method reflects the principles of the Convention (identification, safeguarding, documentation, protection of intangible cultural heritage; strengthening formal and informal transmission mechanisms; and networking and promoting international cooperation). The project promotes respect for cultural diversity and highlights the importance of local traditions as well as the participation of local communities concerned.

P.4:   The file presents quantitative data to attest to the reach of the Kodály concept
(e.g. almost 1,000 local folk song groups, annual national and international folk song festivals, national and local research activities and recognition of the concept in academic institutions). This attests to the widespread public and professional interest in traditional music; there is sufficient information about the effectiveness of growth in the uptake of Kodály concept safeguarding measures.

P.5:   The file describes how the communities have engaged in safeguarding the Kodály folk music teaching method since Kodály first began his work. It presents pedagogues and music teachers, as well as local communities that informed collectors through the last century. The file indicates that local communities participate in the application of the method through regular activities, development of educational materials for teaching, and archiving work. The form states that the proposal has been prepared and consent given by the communities and individuals concerned and letters of consent have been appended, mostly from music teachers and institutes, music groups and associations.

P.6:   The file indicates that the Kodály concept is universally applicable. It can be built up slowly and adapted to different contexts to teach and develop musical skills, while simultaneously safeguarding the local musical heritage.

P.7:   The submitting State, implementing bodies, as well as communities, groups and individuals concerned have indicated their willingness to cooperate in the dissemination of the programme if selected. The file also outlines some on-going cases of cooperation where experts of the Kodály method are working together with their counterparts in other countries (publications, lectures and curriculum support). Graduates from the Kodály Institute are said to be advocates of the method wherever they are.

P.8:   The file presents quantitative information to demonstrate how widely the method has been promoted and applied (the accessibility of folk music collections, an increase in the number of communities pursuing musical activity, growth in the number of participants, interest of the electronic media, folk song and dance competitions, monographs on folk songs and continuous publications of Kodály’s writings). Thus the concept features experiences that are susceptible to an assessment of their results and which may be measured with both short-term and long-term perspectives.

 P.9:  The programme could be applicable to the needs of developing countries as it does not prescribe expensive infrastructure or complex protocols. The file states that the Kodály concept evolved into a method that can be used everywhere to develop music skills and creativity, and eventually safeguard musical heritage on the basis of its openness, democratic spirit, capacity for identity reinforcement, and attempt to follow systematic processes. The applicability of the concept is confirmed by the fact that many professionals are from developing countries.

  1. Selects Safeguarding of the folk music heritage by the Kodály concept as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention;
  2. Thanks the delegation of Hungary for the clarifications provided to the Committee on the information included in the file concerning criteria P.1, P.2, P.3, P.4 and P.8.