Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 4.COM 14.05

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that France has nominated the Cantu in paghjella: a secular and liturgical oral tradition of Corsica for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, described as follows:

The paghjella is a male Corsican singing tradition. It combines three vocal registers that always enter the song in the same order: segonda, which begins, give the pitch and carries the main melody; bassu, which follows, accompanies and supports it, and finally terza, the highest placed, which enriches the song. Paghjella makes substantial use of echo and is sung a capella in a variety of languages including Corsican, Sardinian, Latin and Greek. As both a secular and liturgical oral tradition, it is performed on festive, social and religious occasions: in the bar or village square, as part of liturgical masses and processions and during agricultural fairs. The principle mode of transmission is oral, largely through observation and listening, imitation and immersion, commencing first as part of young boys’ daily liturgical offices and then later at adolescence through the local Church choir. Despite the efforts of its practitioners to revitalize its repertoires, Cantu in paghjella has gradually diminished in vitality, due a sharp decline in intergenerational transmission caused by emigration of the younger generation and the consequent impoverishment of its repertoire. Unless action is taken, Cantu in paghjella will cease to exist in its current form, surviving only as a tourist product devoid of the community links that give it real meaning.

  1. Decides that from the information provided in Nomination File 00315, the Cantu in paghjella: a secular and liturgical oral tradition of Corsica satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List, as follows:

U.1:   An emblem of Corsican identity deeply rooted in its agro-pastoral culture, the Cantu in paghjella is essential to the transmission of local cultural knowledge, an integral part of the social fabric of communities;

U.2:   While continuing to retain its character as an oral tradition and musical practice, and despite the persistence of traditional modes of transmission, the Cantu in paghjella is threatened by changes in the contexts of its performance and oral transmission, musical standardization and an impoverishment of its repertoire following commercialization and popularization, and the continuing demand for novelty from the tourist industry;

U.3:   An urgent safeguarding plan has been elaborated that underlines the priority of transmission, as well as activities of research, protection, promotion and raising awareness, demonstrating the will for an integrated intervention to benefit the viability of the Cantu in paghjella;

U.4:   The element has been nominated thanks to an active commitment and large participation of the community of practitioners, local officials and civil society during the process of elaborating the nomination file, based on the knowledge of several families of singers and supported by the awareness-raising of local media, and many practitioners have offered evidence of their free, prior and informed consent;

U.5:   The Cantu in paghjella is inscribed in the inventory of intangible cultural heritage present on the territory of France, managed and updated by the Direction for Architecture and Heritage of the Ministry of Culture.

  1. Inscribes the the Cantu in paghjella: a secular and liturgical oral tradition of Corsica on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Takes further note of the great attachment of the population of Corsica to the Cantu in paghjella and of the importance they accord to its customary practices such as apprenticeship through imitation and absorption and the role of improvisation;
  3. Recalls the role of listeners, as well as that of singers, as a fundamental characteristic of the musical communicative space of the Cantu in paghjella that is also at risk of disappearance;
  4. Recommends to the State Party that safeguarding measures be developed in situ, in the communes and among the singers and groups, giving particular attention, insofar as possible, to the revitalization of the traditional contexts of practice and avoiding processes that would denaturalize the social meaning and function of the Cantu in paghjella, or that would artificially recreate living situations that have now disappeared;
  5. Encourages the State Party to further the collaboration among researchers, singers and lovers of the song seeking to revitalize traditional performance occasions such as fairs, religious rites and local gatherings, in order to ensure wider access to the element.