Folk Music of Italy, Episode 1: A New Look At An Ancient Land (part 2)
March 7, 1955
Performer: Lomax, Alan; Broadcaster: BBC
Track Number: 2
Archive ID: B002
Original ID: T554R01
Note: Discussed in this part: Jews' or jaw 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.
About the session: The Folk Music of Italy was an eight-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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