A New Look At An Ancient Land Through Its Folksongs - Introduction to the Folk Music of Italy (Folk Music of Italy programs, episode 1)
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An 8-part series of Italian folk music produced and hosted by Alan Lomax for the BBC's Third Programme. The recordings were made by Lomax during his Italian field trip in 1954 and early 1955; the series was compiled before his return to England in the early spring of 1955.
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Overview - Genoa -"La Partenza" South Italian shepherd bagpipe and tambourine - Split between rustic and fine art music that goes back to classical art. Italian folk music defied musical notation: lullaby from Basilicata. Habit of improvising alive in central Italy. Work chants still sung in Italy not Spain. Olive pressing work chant. South Italy still keeps ancient custom of keening the dead, no longer practiced in rest of Europe, not even Ireland. Musical instruments -- violin little used - tambourine most popular. Cane flute.
T554 -- Jews' or Jaws Harp called 'scacciapensieri' -- or 'carechaser' is popular in the South from Naples to Palermo, originated in South East Asia. Sardinia has perhaps the most interesting folk instrument in Western Europe: the Launeddas or tripe cane clarinet. Hour-long dance with polyphony based on well-known themes played on launeddas by a solo player.
Dionysian rant of Launeddas, classical saltarello with tambourine, pre-modal singing of keening women of Calabria all show that the roots of Italian folk music lie in the classical past.
Three Italian folksong zones: North (markedly choral), South, and Sardinia. Northern example: Venetian villanella.
Central Italy is the land of the long solo narrative song, the saltarello, and of improvised verse. Isolated pockets of polyphonic choral singing throughout the South seem to be of recent Greek or Slavic origin. Further south one goes the more ornamented the solo singing. Song from Scilla (Calabria). Sardinian hill men sing in a strange choral style, perhaps one of the earliest European styles. Example. The conservatism of musical habits is most striking. Northern world may correspond to Gallic world and Southern to the Roman. Influence of the invaders. French Christmas carol from Savoy. Cultural complications of Alpine valleys. Yodeling. Slavic colony in Resia. Love song with harmony based on seconds and fourths. Instroduction to comparison of Slavic influenced-song style of the Marche to example of a harvest song from Bosnia.
T555 Harvest song from Bosnia is contrasted to a harvest song from Lazio near Rome, similar style but more restricted throat in Roman example. From Rome south one finds women who sing in this style. Albanians in Calabria. Are these Slavic song pockets traces of slow migrations or do they represent isolated remnant of a substratum? Vocally they have kept the harmonic style but have adopted the stridency of their non-Slavic neighbors. Song transmission occurs through families and role of women is all- important in this. Saracen (North African influence). Polyrhythmic rhythm instruments predominate -- percussion from town of Pagani (town of the pagans). Manifold connections of Southern Italy and Spain. Woman of Palermo sings an air that reminds one of Andalusia. Southern Italian improvised song and guitar playing (from Sardinia). African influence in work song. Tuna fishermen.
1) Greek and Etrustan pre-history (saltarello, tambourine, funeral lament 2) Historical Italy -- choral (possibly Celtic) North vs. the solo (possibly Roman) South. 3) Medieval Italy -- influence of invaders from abroad. 4) Post Renaissance saw the domination of the lyric love song. (5) Folk opera of Reggio Emilia. Relationship of love song to practices of courtship. Example of "overripe" Neapolitan pop song. The discovery of the trip was the varation of song-styles from North to South and its correspondence to social attitudes to love.
T556: North had more open, permissive attitudes toward sex. Central Italy featured arranged marriages. There was virtual purdah in the South, where women were not allowed out. In the North they sing of the pleasures of love. In South they sing of dying for love. Example of choral (male & female) love song from Friuli. Alpine style from Piedmont: "Tutti mi chiamano bionda" ("They all say I'm a blonde"). Maggio from Reggio Emilia, sung in a [relatively] open style.
Central Italian ottava rima improvisation. Stornello -- improvised couplets like the blues. First written down in fourtheenth century. Roman example. The strangulated vocal style heard South of Rome. Pinched voices of women of Casserta singing a duet. The polyphony of Albanians of Lungro, Calabria. Polyphony of Calabria. Piemonte (famed for its army) took the lead in Italian unification, and its songs -- especially marching and soldier farewell songs -- are heard all over Italy. Example of a choral worksong from a fruit packing warehouse in Bari shows Southern and Greek influences on northern polyphony.
The "popolaresca" style, Fascist folk revival attempted to keep peasants in costume and used packaged folk songs as propaganda -- a musical mixed blessing -- a not too bad example is: "Zumbalariala' sung by an artisan chorus from Sicily.