The Italian Musical Calendar (Folk Music of Italy programs, episode 2)
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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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Opening -- "La Partenza." The Italian folk calendar largely conforms to pre-Christian feast day pattern. Sound and fury of real folk calendar. New Year's Day in Capri. Brass band. Rite of wishing good fortune in exchange for present of food is pagan. New Year rite in Ferrara. Bagpipers on Epiphany ("Tu Scendi dalle stelle"). The Befana. Carolers from Luca, in Tuscany. Decline of Carnival. Blight of German municipal band. Old Carnival song from Lucania with phallic 'cupa cupa' (friction drum). 'La Zdeza' theatrical company of artisans of Avellino (near Naples) -- a survival of the old Commedia dell'Arte -- perform at Carnival, with brass band.
Remarkable ritual Carnival sacrifice of Baiardo (in mountains above San Remo near the French border) -- La Barca, incorporating a 38-stanza long ballad (with three tunes) about the count's three beautiful daughters who love three Pisan captains. Father beheads daughter. The Perigoudin, the traditional dance of Savoy. Death of Carnival song.
Holiday of Mezzo Quaresima (a festive interval during Lent). The death and resurrection of "La Vecchia" (Quaresima -- Lent), an occasion for singing one of the best folk songs of Italy.
May Day in the mountains of Abruzzo. May is represented by a handsome young shepherd adorned in green boughs. Serenading on May eve. Tuscan Maying songs reflect the poesy of the Italian Renaissance.
T559: "Ecco il ridente maggio" -- "Here is laughing May." Costabono Maggio.
In the peasant calendar, May goes on till September. Midsummer festival in Calabria with a procession featuring giant puppets of grandma and grandpa doing the tarantella, and a little little devil on a black goat. The drummers play different rhythms for every hour of the day. Behind the drummers come the pipers and then the town band with fireworks. Women singing religious anthem.
T561: Beautiful and fervent devotional songs of the pilgrims during midsummer penitential rituals in Campagna. From Campagna also, a lovely pop song derived from a popular religious anthem, "Quanta grazia."
November, the month of the dead. On an island in Venice, an old woman sings "Remember the poor dead souls." Description of the ceremony of the Day of the dead, when families visit to the cemetery. Songs of mourning.
December, the bagpipe playing of the shepherds during the Advent season.
A Christmas ceremony from Positano, haunt of tourists & Bohemia during the summer. Inhabitants of Montepertusso (the mountain with a hole in it) come down to the port in red caps to sing "The Luck of the Year." Ballo tamburo with Jew's harp, scrapers, wooden hammers, and tambourine in polyrhythm. This is African music in Italy, with whistling, glottal shakes and voice throwing. Flat-footed, legs-a-kimbo dancing around the fire. "How beautiful it is in the evening when the young women come to the fountain" sing the men.