Italian Work Songs (Folk Music of Italy programs, episode 4)
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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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NB: There is no audio available for Lomax's third BBC Italian folk music program, "Italian Life Cycle in Song."
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T564: Marble quarry chant above Carrara. Worksongs like this have built the buildings and monuments of Italy. Cry of the blasters and explosion. Before the blasters the quarrymen knew how to get the marble cut by hand and had songs to coordinate their hammers, but still use the songs to for moving the stones. Leader said emphatically, "This is the misery squad."
Oldest inscription in Rome shows workers pulling a column.
Work gangs of pile drivers in Venice. Song of the canal workers. Song calls protection of the Virgin against the Turks, dating the song to fifteenth century. Archaic song of peasant women going out to work in the fields in the morning: "Day is dawning and cock is crowing for the first peep of day." Chant of Neapolitan man to his donkey, "Sempre avanti" (Mussolini's slogan). Woman and man of the Marche sing love lyrics in seconds and fourths.
Grain harvest is almost a sacred ritual. Wheat is harvested in June in Sicily with prayers. Harvest song (starts as a chant) about the virgin seeking her son as wheat is cut. Song is a lament for the death of the wheat.
T565: Threshing floor song to the mules. Song of the the winnowers with percussion. Launedas procession in Sardinia with chorus. Song for almond harvest in Sicily (choral ballad). Tobacco workers in Puglia (choral ballad, "The White Rose of Florence" ["Mamma dammi cento lire, in America voglio andar"]). Chestnut gatherers in the hills of Avellino. La vendemmia, or wine harvest, is as sensual as the wheat harvest is serious. "O'e! Signorina!" (choral song). Alan recites a Sicilian grape harvest toast. Unemployment. Song of stonebreakers of Pulgia with accompaniment of hammers.
T567: Transhumance. Bitter songs of the partenza (departure) as shepherds leave their families to take their sheep to richer pastures. Lucanian man and woman sing partenza song with frictions drum accompaniment. Shepherd with little wooden pipe. Women singing comic song of the return of the shepherd with bagpipe accompaniment. "Protect me from all shepherds, heavens above, / All sheep-silly and simple, they prefer their sheep to love."
Songs of transportation: the porters sing with their burdens as they toil up the steps of the mountain path. They dream of carrying the most beautiful girl up the mountain.
Counting song of the burden-bearing salt miners of Trapani, Sicily: "We walk like the dead by night" -- a lament of savage misery from the oldest industry.
Sicilian carters' songs. They travel from midnight to dawn to get the produce to the market in the early morning.
T566: The market. Street cries of the hawkers. Street cries from Milan. Melodious street cries from Rome. Street cries from Naples. Lookout's cries of swordfishermen from the Straits of Messina and sounds from the boat. Songs of women washing the linen sheets. More swordfishing songs (with Greek words). The Tonnara.