Syrian Cassette Archives is an initiative aiming to preserve, share and research sounds and stories from the cassette era (1980s-2000s) in Syria.

Academy of Arts, Berlin

SYRIAN CASSETTE ARCHIVES is an initiative to preserve, share and explore analogue sound recordings and their stories from the cassette era in Syria (1980s to 2000s). These musical documents of analogue music cassettes from an eclectic and culturally diverse pre-war Syria will be made accessible via a web archive, also to bring them into a current, as well as documentary dialogue with musicians* from Syria and their various, current places of residence.
The basis for this is a collection of over 500 tape cassettes and digital productions (CDs, VCDs, MP3s) acquired by audio archivist Mark Gergis during his travels through Syria between 1997 and 2000. The collection of these audio artefacts reflects Mark Gergis’ decades of research on the ground and his personal connections to musicians, artists and music producers and distributors. The collection includes music by Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds and Armenians and covers the full breadth of Syrian music released during the “cassette era” (1970-2010): regional folklore, pop and classical styles, studio albums, live wedding concerts, classical music, patriotic songs and children’s music. In close cooperation with Syrian communities in their current places of residence, the project results are made available to Syrians and the general public through an interactive online database. This includes a mapping of the music artefacts in the collection, music historical research and textual materials, interviews with oral histories and a music compilation.

Despite the myriad sectarian and political rifts that have emerged from the Syrian crisis in the wake of the civil war that began in 2011, music has remained a unifying bond for Syrians. The SYRIAN CASSETTE ARCHIVES project identifies two main aspects of cultural heritage – the music itself and people’s knowledge of music. Mark Gergis and the SCA team are concerned to make this access to an essential part of Syrian cultural history possible, as well as to preserve it.

with Hazem Jamjoun, Mamoun Hamada, Yamen Mekdad, Anas Moubayed, Rizan Sa’id, Omid Silêman, Fahra Zahra a.o.

A project by Mark Gergis in collaboration with Heike Albrecht and Yamen Mekdad.
This event is a co-production with Akademie der Künste, Berlin, as part of “Arbeit am Gedächtnis – Transforming Archives”.
Supported by Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin and Gwärtler Stiftung.