Polyphonic Singing

A truly magical gift

I’ve been travelling around Georgian and living in Tbilisi for years now, each journey deepening my connection with the folklore there.

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Georgia is a small country bordering the Black Sea, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. Its polyphonic music, as well as its unique alphabet, have been recognised by UNESCO as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.

Though small, there is great variety within the different regions of the country, including soothing healing songs, rousing table songs, and reverent chants. These songs touch something deep inside our bodies, reaching down to the earth and back through generations of ancestors.


Love at first sight

How does a British actor become obsessed with Georgian folk music?

As a teenager, I sang in a folk choir. One week a visiting leader said ‘We’re going to sing a Georgian song’ and I thought he meant we would sing an old English song from the Georgian period of history! But then he started singing in another language, and it was unlike anything else I’d ever heard. And so the Georgian seed was planted.

A recognition

In 2017, as part of my theatre degree, I was training in musicality and mutuality at Gardzienice Centre for Theatre Practices, Poland.

We were singing songs from all over the world, which I loved, but when we sang Asho Chela from Georgia, something profound shifted in me.

The harmonies chimed with something earthy and ancient which I was hungry to understand.

Later that year I travelled to Georgia on a singing tour. I was hosted by locals in small villages and learned from Georgian ethnomusicologists. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Discover more

In this mini documentary, Holly talks about why Georgian songs are so special (15.45) and how they link to the ritual of the supra feast (2.15). 

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The podcast

Voices of the Ancestors

Your hosts, Holly and Susan, take a gentle stroll with lovers of Georgian polyphonic songs (the one in the Caucasus mountains). Pausing with inspiring teachers to admire the view of the past and future of this deeply rooted aural tradition. In Georgia’s traditionally patriarchal society the podcast takes time to admire the perspective of folklore from a female viewpoint.


What a lovely and beautiful session yesterday. The sound was simply wonderful. I just wanted to soak it in and bask in the sounds of the Georgian songs.

Thank you for leading us safely and gently into Georgian song. It was a pleasure and a joy. I connected with a few other singers and left feeling very refreshed and delighted to have been introduced to Georgian singing in such a nice way.

Marie O’brien, Choir Leader

You ran the workshop in a super assured, inclusive and knowledgeable fashion which made it easy for everyone to participate.

Philip Read, Choir Leader