On Facebook, initial feedback has been enthusiastic as users click around towns and cities on the map, selecting songs they want to hear. “I spent my day listening to beautiful tunes and songs on the site,” one user says, while others describe it as “one of the most beautiful cultural works on the internet I have seen it in recent years” and “a wonderful work indicating the greatness and splendour of Syria.”
Schools for Teaching Traditional Music
Around a third of the songs are performed by graduates of the Action for Hope Music Schools, which teach traditional folk music from the region to students in Jordan and Lebanon.
Farah Kaddour, a teacher and program officer with Action for Hope Music Schools, says many of her students have since gone to live abroad, in Germany, Norway, Canada and elsewhere. Knowing they can tap into their heritage wherever they are, fills her with happiness, she says.
“Syrian society is now all around the world, so we’re trying to represent this kind of music and make it accessible. … Music is hugely important to Syrians. They want to listen and make this music live again, in their memories or in their daily life.”
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Browsing through the comments on Facebook, Kaddour saw two Syrian users connecting over a traditional folk song they found on the site. “I was like, wow, they’ve found this song they love.”
Moments like this reinforce the scope of the map to help restore ties between Syrians and the musical traditions that underpin their country’s cultural heritage. “When you feel that your heritage has been affected by wars, or the economic and political situation, you get more attached to it and feel you have to preserve and make it safe,” Kaddour says.
This makes the Syria Music Map a powerful tool, she adds, not just in response to the current crisis, but for future generations of Syrians finding ways to connect with their country. “I feel a big responsibility to develop it and make it a real reference for people to find all the kinds of music they belong to.”