Language Issue
Revitalising the traditional song in Tunisia: Marketing strategies and the preservation of cultural identity
Revitalising the traditional song in Tunisia: Marketing strategies and the preservation of cultural identity
Issue 55

Muiz Al Kafi 

Tunisia

In Tunisia, there are numerous ways to revitalise traditional songs, from preserving the song's identity to introducing partial or total change. However, the listener may not notice these changes; instead, they praise the performers for preserving musical heritage.

This paper aims to shed light on traditional songs in order to increase awareness because the contemporary music industry promotes the artist at the expense of the song. The elements of the song and the accompanying video combine to form the song's identity:

  • The song: Most performers are content with just a few excerpts from the original song, as long as the total length is five minutes at most, the standard length of a song in contemporary music. The performers typically conform to the original literary text as well as the main elements of the musical text (maqam, rhythm and melodic sentences), but the music is dominated by modern instruments that often overshadow the folk instruments that emphasise the song's cultural significance.
  • Videos: Heritage songs are often performed by inexperienced singers, and the videos often serve as expressive tools that promote the performers rather than the songs. 
  • On the other hand, the identity of the music is conveyed through the setting, effects and occasionally through dance. Although this has successfully attracted a large number of listeners at the national and Arab levels, it has not played a significant role in establishing the heritage song's cultural identity.
  • The traditional song is part of the collective cultural heritage and it cannot be altered for commercial purposes. On the other hand, when a traditional song is revived, it is not necessary to reproduce the original art form in full; instead one can concentrate on the vocal characteristics and on qualities of the song's historical instruments in a contemporary form without altering the literary and musical text.s
  • The video and marketing techniques should support the song's identity with a clear script that interprets the meanings of the literary text and words that may seem ambiguous to some listeners.