Folk Musical Instruments in Calibria



This article is based upon data gathered by us during a decade of field research in Calabria on the music and the musical instruments of the folk tradition. Calabria is the extreme south-western corner of the Italian peninsula (see map). it is washed to the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the east by the Ionian, and the Appenine mountain range (Sila, Serre, Aspromonte) runs along its length from north to south. For administration purposes it is divided into three provinces: Cosenza, Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria. The region's economy is based essentially on small-time farming, pastoral activity and fishing; tourism is highly developed while industry is not. A large portion of the population still shares an archaic agro-pastoral type of culture, transmitted orally and partially functional to the life of the communiry. In this kind of environment music assumes an important role. Our interest in the Calabrian instruments is concentrated essentially upon the musical reality that is represented through them. We have tried to discover the characteristics and the traits of each instrument by analysing its repertoire and performing techniques by means of sound recordings carried out directly by us. Therefore we shall not examine questions of mere organology, as applied theoretically to the instruments as mute objects, here. Besides, a 'hem' exarmination of the instruments can not but keep in mind that in Calabria the instruments are referred to explicitly with a term that expresses their musical function, i suoni (literally 'the sounds') and that generally they enjoy little or no prestige as mere objects in themselves, and that, when no longer used, they decline completely. In Calabria there are about thirty traditional musical instruments, some of which have strongly archaic characteristics and are in part, or entirely, extinct in other parts of Italy. According to the distinction made by Stockmann between primary and secondary instruments - the former referred to instruments used exclusively to perform popular music, the latter referred to instruments present in other socio-cultural sectors - there is a marked prevalence in Calabria of primary instruments, some of them constructed in specialised craft workshops, others made directly by the players themselves. This prevalence indicates a high degree of cultural cohesion, even if the acquisition of instruments from without is a sign of disintegration. Often the secondary instruments are totally revisited and adapted to the folk musical environment so hat they become autonomous with regard to the original models. A 'historical' case of this kind is that of the chitarra battente which has died out within the dominant culture, but has been adapted and adopted by the Southern peasant world and constructed in specialised craft-shops. The most striking case of all is that of the diatonic accordian, an instrument produced industrially and which the popular musicians of central and southern Italy, as well as of Sardinia, have taken possession of in a highly creative manner. However, the prevalence of the primary instruments reflects also precise choices of timbre, obtained through the use of particular materials and specific craft techniques. Thus, for example, the triangle must be of wrought iron, and the membrane of the tambourine of cured skin, and so on. The culture is conductive to the manufacture of musical instruments and there are many workshops where they are made. The craft-shop is a very important place for the continuity of the musical tradition because it is the place where the instruments are renewed, and also acts as a meeting-place for the players. Among the approximately thirty popular musical instruments in Calabria, we can distinguish two basic socio-economic levels of use: agro-pastoral (peasants, shepherds, fishermen) and smalltown-artisan (barbers, tailors, butchers etc.). The first level is characterised by a prevalence of primary instruments, especially of the archaic variety, total lack of knowledge of Western musical theory, use of modal scales extraneous to the tempered one, instrumental specialisation (for example the zampogna-player - zampognaro) in no way akin to professional practice in the modem sense. The second level is characterised by a prevalence of secondary instruments, for the most part modem, sometimes electrified, elementary notions of musical theory, prevalently tonal musical forms, semi-professional or professional practice (for example plectrum groups, bands). Our research is principally centred upon the agro-pastoral level. However, we have not overlooked those instruments that are used at both levels with different modalities, such as the guitar and the mandolin. We have purposely left out the violin and the piano-accordian as well as band instruments. As well as that, for reasons of time and space, we do not cover numerous ephemeral instruments (except the bark flute) nor have we taken sonorous objects into consideration. We have left out horns and shells from our documentation as these have gone completely out of use. The nineteen musical instruments examined here represent the effective corpus of instruments used in peasant music in Calabria today. The way in which they are used and combined together, the functions that they assume on various occasions, the symbolism and the ritual associated with them, are all factors regulated by a rigorous social code by which the folk culture maintains and perpetuates its own music.



Bells and cow-bells are used to enhance the harnesses of a number of work and burden animals (donkeys and horses) or placed around the necks of pasture animals (sheep, goats, cattle). They are forged by smiths in bronze, iron and brass, but they are also available factory made. Depending upon the animal, they come in various sizes: from a few centimetres long, for lambs and kids, up to 30-40 cm long, for adult cattle. The herdsmen buy them at the fairs and choose them on the basis of their size and sound, which, according to a precise sexual symbolism, are either masculine or feminine, to suit the animal that is to wear them. Thus, the herd as well as the single animals belonging to it can be recognised at a distance, and so the cow-bells assume the function of 'sound markers'. But there is also a more strictly musical use of these cow-bells connected with the New Year and Carnival festivities. During these festivities, characterised by the expulsion of evil, the cow-bells figure among the 'noise-raising' objects and instruments that are played within the villages for the purpose of exorcising and purifying. At Carnival in some villages 'processional' dancers are accompanied by percussion on pots, pans, lids, bells and cow-bells.


The triangle (azzarinu) used at folk level is made by smiths who use a strip of iron bent into the proper form and tempered in order to obtain a good sound. Usually the ends are tapered off in symmetrical curls bent outward. The dimensions vary, but usually they are between 25 and 30 cm per side. The instrument comes with a beater in the same material treated in the same fashion as the triangle itself. The triangle is suspended on a string held in the left hand, while the right one hits the inside of the sides with the beater using a number of techniques and creating a series of double-note or triplet combinations (see Ex. 1).



Some instruments that are scraped and beaten ( tocca, toccheta, tirri etc.) are used to accompany the Holy Week ceremonies. These are noise-making instruments, the use of which in a period characterised by purification rites, emphasises their exorcising function. Occasionally these instruments are used also during Carnival. From an organological point of view these instruments fall into two basic groups: (a) scrapers: raganella and traccola. The raganella is composed of a simple wooden or cane frame to which a tongue is attached. This tongue rests on a cogged wheel mounted in the frame which is rotated by an external handle. Catching the instrument by the handle and making it turn upon its own axis makes the tongue scrape against the cogs of the wheel. The traccola is a wooden box of varying dimensions - often quite large - containing one or more raganella mechanisms that are manoeuvred by an external handle. Thus having a sound-box, this instrument has a far louder volume than the simple raganella and usually it is the noisiest instrument among the Holy Week idiophones. (b) percussions: tabella and martelletto. The tabella is a piece of wooden board with a hand-hold cut out in one of its sides. On the surfaces of both sides one or more metal knobs or sets of little wooden flappers are hinged. Catching the instrument rightly by the hand-grip and rotating it along its axis, first on the one side then on the other, the mobile elements chained to the board bang off it. The martelletto is a small slender strip of wood on the lower part of which a handle is attached, while on the upper surface one or more little hammers are tied on in a number of ways. By catching the instrument by its handle and shaking one's wrist, one obtains the percussion of the little hammers against the strip of wood. Generally, all these instruments are played by children, but the large traccolas, which require great strength, are played by men, often in groups. The Holy Week ldlophones are to be found all over the region, although the degree to which they are found varies a lot.


In Calabria castanets (scattagnole, scattagnette) are made of single couples of wooden 'shells'. They are cut out by cow-herds and shepherds using knives and working with hard, resounding woods (maple, box). The external shape and the size may vary considerably: we can find triangular, pear-shaped, egg-shaped outlines, we can find from deep to shallow inside hollows, varying lengths, from a few to as many as 10 to 12 cm. At the top of each of the two shells there are two small holes through which a string passes to link the two shells together. The string also passes through a tongue made of a tiny rectangle of leather or rubber or wood placed between the two castanets where the holes in the two shells meet. This tongue is an important element because it keeps the two halves at the proper distance one from the other and gives them their necessary bounce. This type of single-couple castanet is played by claspig the instrument tightly in the right hand, after having first passed the strings, in varying fashion, through the fingers. The castanets are then made to clap and bounce off the palm or off the back of the opposite hand so as to cause the reciprocal percussion of the two elements.



In Italy a tambourine is a single-skin frame drum with, nearly always, the addition of a series of tiny cymbals wired into the frame. The instrument is widespread in the centre and south, and here and there in the north, too. It varies in size from a diameter of 15 to 50 cm. In Calabria the tambourine (tammurrinu, tammureddu) is widespread all over the region and is still used to accompany the traditional tarantella dance, which requires a very strong rhythmical support (see Pls. IV (b) and V (a)). In the province of Reggio Calabria this type of membranophone is particularity important, it being considered the percussion instrument par excellence in that particular area; here it is so vital and so important that it is always present and is even played in group formation. This is the only instrument that is played by women, although it is played by both sexes and many men are virtuosos at it. Its feminine character -from the point of view of symbology and history, proven to be such - is constantly underlined. Besides it is an instrument that is still played a lot and well by the younger generations. The tambourine is often home-made. However, in Calabria there are makers who work in craft-shops, for example at Seminara in the province of Reggio Calabria, and bring their products for sale to the local fairs and religious festivities. The construction of the instrument begins with curing the skin - usually kid, although rabbit and even cat are sometimes used - with salt and alum. While still damp, the skin is stretched over a frame - a strip of pliable wood bent into a circle - and is fixed on to it with glue and nails, sometimes with a second right outer wooden circle. Along the frame a series of rectangular slots are made and, using wire, little beaten, tempered metal cymbals are set into them. The makers often decorate the instruments with little floral patterns along the wooden frame or they fresco scenes from the knightly tradition on the skin. Sometimes, in order to obtain a softer and more muted timbre, the inside of the skin is completely shaven and smoothed. Also, to underline the volume and the higher frequencies of the cymbals, little bells of various sizes are attached in various ways to the inside of the frame (see PI. IV (k)). The tambourine is played by clasping the lower part of the frame in the left hand and beating the skin with the right, using the finger-tips, the palm, the wrist, according to a number of techniques. The percussion accompaniment performed on the tambourine is characterised by frequent rhythmic variation (alteration within the same measure of binary, simple, dotted and ternary figures, see Ex. 1).


The friction drum (see PI. III (a)) is an instrument formed by a sound-box, a membrane and a stick. The sound-box is a cylindrical tin, terracotta or wooden vessel, open at the top. Across the top the player stretches a membrane of skin, cloth or bladder and fastens it all around with a string. At the centre of this membrane stands a cane stick that must be long, slender and knotless, and this is attached to the membrane from the inside of the membrane itself The Joining of the cane and the membrane, invisible from the outside, is achieved in a number of ways: if the cane is very slender a safety-pin may be sufficient, otherwise a cross-shaped piece of wood is fixed to one end of the cane and then the central point of the membrane is attached to this. The instrument is played standing or sitting. The cylinder is held at chest level with one hand. The other hand, moistened beforehand, is rubbed up and down the cane which transmits vibrations to the membrane, which has also been dampened. To guarantee a certain duration of performing-time some water is often poured into the vessel so that, when need be, it can be upturned for a moment, thus remoisteming the membrane. The sound produced by the instrument is dull and grotesque and this fact has led to its being called by clearly onomatopoeic names such as cupi-cupi, zucu-zucu etc. The cupi-cupi has a ritual function and is played exclusively during certain winter agricultural 'ceremonies': New Year, Carnival and All Souls. On these occasions, in the agro-pastoral communities, groups of singers and players go from house to house within the village and around the countryside offering good wishes and asking for gifts of food and drink. During the days immediately before these festivities the friction drums are made using whatever materials may be readily found (for example the membrane may be a simple kitchen cloth). At the end of the ritual the instrument is taken apart once more and the component parts resume their everyday roles and places. The instrument has not, therefore, any effective existence as such and its brief ephemeral existence underlines its purely ritual character. Its use during other periods of the year would be unthinkable. The use of the cupi-cupi is associated with the female world, and it is the women, who on other occasions are inactive, who make it, play it, sing to it and then dismount it.


Among the popular secondary instruments, that is those belonging to the ,cultured' tradition and modified in use and function at popular level, we find drums used in band formations, such as the snare drum, and the bass drum, to which the cymbals can be added. As a popular formation these instruments are called collectively in dialect tamburrinari. Often the formation is semi-professional and they are called to play during 'novenas', that is those nine-day periods that procede many important feasts. But the prerogative of the tamburrinari consists above all in accompanying processions during summertime religious festivities, which are very common especially in the most southerly part of the re 'on. For example, at Gioiosa Ionica (province of Reggio Calabria) on the feast of San Rocco the faithful perform votive tarantellas before the statue of the saint carried in procession accompanied by a very numerous group of tamburrinari (as many as 50-60 players). On a number of festive occasions the tamburrinari accompany the dancing of two huge puppets called the Giganti worked by men and which represent the mythical figures of the Moorish King and the White Queen. The tarantella performed by the tamburrinari is characterised by a little- varied compound-time rhythm pattern, strongly influenced by military playing practice (see Ex. 2).



This is made from a smooth knotless piece of marsh cane open at both ends, the upper opening cut off in correspondence with a knot in the cane, the lower opening immediately preceding the Following one. Near the upper end an eve-shaped hole is cut out in the side of the cane and this is the instruments mouthpiece. The upper end is covered with a membrane - a leaf, a piece of onion skin, a piece of tissue paper - and tied around the instrument using a string or a vegetable stalk (for example furze). To 'play' one places one's lips against the mouthpiece and sings into the instrument. The membrane, vibrating, modifies the timbre of the voice transforming it into a buzzing sound. Originally an instrument with magical and ritual connections, the mirliton has lost this function and has become simply one of the many toy-lnstruments used by children.



Of the more rudimentary types of aerophone, Calabria offers a good number of seasonal ephemeral instruments still occasionally made and played by shepherds. Perhaps the most sophisticated of these is the bark flute (fragulu,farautu etc.)3 which is made mainly in spring using the bark of a variety of different plants growing in that season: chestnut, willow, fig and oleander (see PI. III (b)). A young twig is cut and its bark is pealed off by means of a number of slightly different techniques, so as to obtain a tube of bark of about 60 to 100 cm in length. The tube is elaborated so that it becomes a flute with an internal duct devoid of finger-holes, open-ended and having either a lateral or top mouth-piece. The block is cut from the wood removed from inside the bark. The instrument lasts only a few days, then it becomes totally unusable on account of its drying up. Since the flute does not have finger-holes, the melody is obtained by means of harmonics achieved by overblowing, while the only finger action is that on the lower opening. in this manner the pitches of the harmonics may be varied, depending on the size of the flute and the relations between its length and diameter. According to a number of reports, in the past, the bark flute was used in a ritual way during the Holy Week period. Today it is used very sporadically by the shepherds who play many suggestive senate on it.


In Calabria, and in the South in general, shepherds and peasants often construct internal duct, straight, beaked flutes, using marsh cane or wood (fischiotto, Frischetto etc). The cane is the most common kind found locally. The instrument is made using a knife or, at times, a red-hot of pointed iron. There are various types of flute and they are of different sizes and the number of the holes too, varies a lot: from three to eight anterior holes plus one posterior hole. The size, the number of finger- holes, the degree to which the flute is finished and even decorated with carvings done with the point of the knife, are all marks of the importance given to it as an object as such: it may be considered as a veritable instrument to be kept and used for musical purposes, or else as a pastime to be thrown away after its use in the country, or sometimes it may be actually made By children. For the construction of the beaked flute a piece of cane including two knots is used: the top of it cut off just below the first knot and the lower end a little below the second one. Much care is given to the construction and the insertion of the block, so as to avoid escape of air, as well as to the careful regular positioning of the finger-holes. An important element is the final part or the tube, the internal walls of which are often scraped and smoothed, while the knot, partially or wholly opened creates an interruption in the cylindrical body of the instrument. In Calabn'a this kind of flute is also widespread in a double-piped version (fischiotti, frischetti) consisting of two flutes blown and fingered together - with one hand on each pipe Constructed in the same manner as the single flute, the double flute pipes have very pronounced beaks to facilitate their being held between the teeth which must bear the weight of the instrument, and at times they have large posterior/ inferior openings which are used to tune the two pipes to each other. We can distinguish two types: (1) a paro: canes of equal length and diameter, normally held together in parallel (Ex. 3 and PI. V (b)). a mezza chiave: canes of different lengths and diameters held in a diverging position (Ex. 4). Type i presents four different combinations of finger-holes in the two Pipes, which give rise to just as many different scale patterns (see Ex. 3) beginning with the range of a sixth (3.1 and 3.2) up to one of an octave (3.4). Within this variation the right pipe remains the same, while the left one differs in its finger-holes both in number (2,3,4) and in its alignment with the right pipe. In performing practice, the various types can all be traced back to a sin e musical model, because the

(ES.3)Double flute of type i

(Es. 4)Double flute of type ii

accompaniment on the left pipe is achieved by means of a single basic form which all the various types can at least obtain. One should note that each of the four scale patterns is superimposable upon that of the a paro bagpipe (see paragraph 13, type 111, and Ex. 8). In type ii there is only one arrangement of finger-holes which gives rise to a scale pattern comparable to that in Ex. 4. One notes that this scale coincides with that of the a chiave bagpipe (see paragraph 13, type 11, and Ex. 7). As we see, the double flute is an instrument with strong analogies with the chanters of the bagpipe. Furthermore many double-flute players are also' bagpipe players, and the repertoires of the two instruments coincide in part, and include pastorales and tarantellas. The double flute is widespread all over the re 'on, but it is to be found to a greater extent in the province of 'o Calabn'a and with the prevalence of type 1 over type ii. In the past, according to the testimony of one player, there was also a three-pipe model, with one of the pipes, devoid of finger-holes, acting as a drone.


The reed horn (corno) is an instrument used for calling and signalling and for gathering together flocks and herds of animals. It is made from an ox-horn about 40-50 cm long, the tip of which is sawn and bored and contains a simple cane reed like the type used for bagpipes (see paragraph 13, type 1). Sometimes it also has a cord so that it can be carried around the neck. The instrument is played by placing the reed completely inside the mouth, while the lips rest against the edge of the horn.


The shawm in Calabria is called pipita. It is composed of a long, tube ending in a bell which is either integral or is screwed onto it. It has six or seven front finger-holes and one posterior one which follow a diatonic scale (Ex. 5) as well as various other intonation holes. It has a double reed of cane which the players often keep inside the bell when it is not being used. Often the border of the bell, and the join between the bell and the tube, are reinforced with rings of horn.

The shawm is constructed in workshops by specialised tuners. The woods most often employed are: olive, wild olive, maple, box and the wood of various fruit trees. The instrument is played in pair informatino with the a chive bagpipes (see paragraph 13, type 11) and this combination is a typical one in other parts of Italy too (Latium, Abruzzo, Campania) in which the shawm takes the solo role playing the 'cantabile' parts. Because it is played in combination, the shawm is made in a number of sizes according to the key of the accompanying bagpipes. The intonation can be improved by widening or narrowing the finger-holes with beeswax. The shawm also forms a part -of traditional band formation (see PI. IV (a)). The repertoire includes traditional tunes (tarantellas and pastorales) as well as acquired ones such as marches and commercial songs.


The bagpipe is one of the most important instruments in the agro-pastoral ambit in Calabria. Its form and the parts of the animals that it is made from' link it quite closely to the magical ritual sphere, while the weight and the function it has in musical circles make it emblematic of the entire universe of sounds. The instrument is widespread in the entire region in four different models and is used all year round on festive and ceremonial occasions and on everyday occasions involving relatives and friends. The Calabrian bagpipes have four or five (exceptionally, even six) pipes with a reed, inserted into a truncated conical stock communicating with the interior of a skin bag. The bag, which acts as air reservoir, is of goat or sheep skin, which is removed in its entirety from the animal thus maintaining its form. The hair is on the inside of the bag. The point that coincides with the animal's neck is tied to the stock while the blowpipe is tied to one of the fore-feet. The other three feet are sewn up, but they stick out strikingly. The size of the bag is proportional to the length of the pipes. However, in Calabn'a the players prefer large bags. The combination of pipes is based on two chanters plus drones. The chanters, supplied with finger-holes, are a single piece or two separate pieces screwed together, and they usually have bell endings. They are tuned by regulating the size of the finger-holes with beeswax. The drones are each composed of two elements which slide one into the other so as to be able to regulate their ruffling by varying their length. The main woods used in their construction are: box, mulberry, walnut, olive, wild olive, maple, heather and fruit-tree wood. The joint and borders are sometimes all ringed in horn to reinforce them and as an ornament. The cane reeds may be single or double. The single reed (zommaredda) is the most used. It is made from a tiny tube of cane - sealed at one end by a natural knot - in which a tongue is cut. The double reed (rametta) is like that of the oboe and similar to that of the shawm. Some instruments use both types of reed, single in the great drone and double in the chanters and other drones (see type III). The bagpipes come with a series of accessories: a chunk of beeswax usually stuck onto the stock; little wooden awl-like instruments, used to free the finger-holes from excess wax; sometimes even bungs to stop up the drones during the tuningm stage; tassels ribbons and coloured tapes - usually red - to obtain magical protection against the evil eye. Like the shawm the bagpipe too, is made in specialised work-shops where special tools are employed: a lathe, chisels, gimlets, borers, drills etc. Here new instruments are constructed, but old ones are repaired too. The most favourable occasions for the sale of the instruments are the great annual religious festivities to which a large number of players flock. The makers are usually also players and they perform an important role in transmitting the traditional musical culture. Among the Calabn'an centres where bagpipes are made are Farneta, Verbicaro, Brancalcone and Bagaladi (see the map). Some types of bagpipes are home-made by hand by the player himself, using a knife. The bag-pipe player attends to the upkeep of his instrument personally, substituting reeds and bags when necessary. He is a central figure in the life of the agro-pastoral community: his presence guarantees the regular car 'rig out of the great and minor collective rites of the group. The four types of bagpipe to be found in Calabria are the following: Type 1: surdulina, i suoni, karamunyia (Albanian) (see PI. IV (b)). it is found in the central-north area of the region (the provinces of Cosenza and Catanzaro, including the Calabro-Albanian corn- munities). This instrument is of small to medium size (length 30-60 cm) with a simple down-cut reed, four, sometimes five (quite exceptionally six) cylindrical pipes, devoid of bells. The chanters are identical in size - the left one closed at the bottom - each with four finger-holes as well as tuning holes. The two, rarely three, drones in the dominant, are of different sizes (occasionally with a doubling of the smaller one). The scale is given in Ex. 6. EX. 6. Bagpipes of type I.


ES. 6

Type ll.: zampogna a chiave. Found in the central-southern region (provinces of Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria). This instrument is very large (length from 80-120 cm) with. a double reed, five pipes, of which four are conical and have bells, the fifth pipe, the great drone, is cylindrical and bell-less. The chanters are of different sizes; the right one has four front finger-holes and one behind, the left has four front finger-holes, the last of which, at quite a distance from the others, is covered with a metal key. Both have tuning holes. The drones - the smallest and the medium ones in the dominant, the great drone in the tonic - are all of different sizes. See the scale in Ex. 7.

EX. 7. Bagpipes III

Type III: ciaramedda a paro (see PI. V (a)) Found in the central-southern part of the region (provinces of Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria, including the Hellenistic communities). The instrument is of medium to large size (length 50-80 cm), with single up-cut or double or mixed reeds (single in the great drone, double in the other pipes). It has four or five pipes of which three or four are conical with bells and the other, the great drone, cylindrical and bell- less. The chanters are of -equal size; the right has four finger-holes in the front and one at the back, the left has four front finger-holes. Both have tuning holes. The two or three drones in the dominant are of varying size. See scale in Ex. 8. ES. 8.

EX. 8. Bagpipes of types III

Type IV: ciaramedda a la moderna Found in the south (province of Reggio Calabn'a, including the Hellenistic communities). This is an instrument of medium to large dimensions (length 50-80 cm) with single up-cut reeds, five pipes of which four are conical with bells and one, the great drone, bell-less and cylindrical. The chanters are of different sizes; the right has four front holes and one at the back, the left has four front finger-holes. Both have also got tuning holes. The drones - the smallest and the medium one in the dominant, the great one in the tonic- are of different sizes. See the scale in Ex. 7. As seen in musical examples 6-8, there are two fundamental scale models - represented by types II and IV and by type 111 (I is a variation of 111) - in which the sounds of the right chanter remain unvaried, while the left varies from the tonic to the dominant diatonically, in types 11 and IV, and from the dominant to the supertonic, in the type Ill. In the type Ill bagpipe (and in 1) the chanters are tuned in fourths and have two series of sounds that partially overlap. Their combination gives rise to a complete scale with a modal succession of steps. In bagpipes of types II and IV the chanters are tuned by, octaves and offer two non-contiguous series of sounds. Besides, while types III (and I) all have drones in the dominant, types II and IV are characterised by the tuning of the lower drone to the tonic. it is important to note that the scale of type III (and I) is shared by the principal archaic musical instruments in Calabria: the double flutes of type I (see paragraph 10), the fiddle (see paragraph 18) and to a certain degree the chitarra battente with its dominant drones (see paragraph 16). In Calabria the bagpipe repertoire consists of traditional tunes - pastorale and tarantella - both used on ritual festive occasions, of which the procession (pastorale) and the dance (tarantella) are the most important events. These tunes are of a repetitive-microvaried type, and are usually played for a long duration. Only the a chiave, type II, in combination with the shawm, has absorbed material from more modern repertoires (foreign dance tunes, songs). The bagpipes are also used to accompany singing.


The diatonic accordion is an instrument to be found all over Calabria, in two, four and eight bass versions. Due to its organological character- istics (a polyphonic free reed aerophone with an air reservoir) it tends to take the place of the bagpipes compared with which it offers the advan- tage of being easier to learn, to use and maintain. Besides, due to its ,cheerful' character the diatonic accordion has met with favour in Calabria, above all in the centre and south, especially among the young. Naturally, being a secondary instrument, made industrially and according to the tempered musical scale, it can not reproduce some of the microtonal 'finesses' of the bagpipes. However, in Calabria, the instrument has been adapted to meet with local musical practice, and a specific repertoire has also been created for it. This is particularly evident in the tarantellas of the province of Reggio Calabria, where elements borrowed from the bagpipe - long notes and chords - are mixed with elements proper to the accordion - more articulated musical phrases, staccato and stopped rhythmical effects obtained by rapid bellow movement, thus giving rise to compositions (ciarameddare) of great efficacy. The diatonic accordion has also brought with it modern repertoires (foreign dance tunes, songs).



From an organological point of view the instrument used in Calabria is a six-stringed guitar using wire strings and tuned in the ordinary manner. Sometimes the instruments are factory-made, but sometimes we can come across the odd lovely, guitar made by a local lute-maker or coming from nearby Sicily where there is a flourishing craft-made stringed instruments trade. In Calabria the guitar is usually defined as francese (French) and considered as an imported instrument, not belonging originally to the local musical tradition, like the 'autochthonous' chitarra battente (see paragraph 16). With the violin and the mandolin, the guitar is used in small-town artisan circles. in small semi-professional groups, to play repertoires of nineteenth-century clearly urban origin: operettas. romantic airs and Neapolitan songs. There is, however, a distinctly peasant way of using the instrument, which is connected mainly with song accompaniment. Typical of southern Calabria is the alla riggitana style (the Reggio Calabrian style) with two alternating voices and guitar. in the province of Cosenza the guitar is used in formation with the chitarra battente. There is, besides, a solo repertoire for guitar consisting of a number of special tarantellas (pizziche) where a performing technique akin to the first picking of the Anglo-Saxon tradition: the melody is played on the first two higher strings, while the lower strings play the drone notes.


The Chitarra battente (see PI. III (a)) is an instrument of cultured musical origin (XVII century adopted by the Calabrian peasants and adapted to such an extent as to assume characteristics and functions quite autonomous from those of the historical model. The instrument is elongated in form with barely accentuated shoulders and sides, the back is curved, while the high lateral bands sometimes contain tiny holes called ears. The body is made from ribs of walnut or chestnut separated by very slender strips of lighter-coloured wood. The sound-board, in spruce, is bent at the base and decorated with various patterns in red and blue. The sound-hole is covered with a cylindrical rose in coloured cardboard pierced and cut out, from the centre of which emerges a paper 'flower'. The bridge which is mobile and low, is placed just beyond the bend in the board. The neck, in pear- wood or poplar, ends in a flat pegboard, slightly bent backwards and containing posterior pegs. On the palisander fingerboard, or else directly on the neck, are inserted nine metal frets and a nut in wood. The instrument uses four wire strings of a very small gauge (0.20 - 0.25 mm), some of them are frequently doubled. Often there is also a high-pitch drone string called scordino held by a peg that pierces the neck between the sixth and seventh metal frets. The strings are tuned as follows: a2. d3, b2, e3 (a3: the -scordino). There is also a chitarra battente with five double strings which is not, however, used much at popular level. The chitarra battente is made in three sizes: the large chitarra about 100 cm long, the medium-sized mezza chitarra, about 90 cm long, and the small chitarrino, about 70 cm long. In Calabria there is one of the principal Italian centres for the construction of the chitarra battente, it is It Bisignano (province of Cosenza) where the instrument-making family of the De Bonis lives and has been working since the eighteenth century. There are also a number of minor centres to be found at different points in all the three provinces. It is probable that in the past, the instrument was to be found all over the whole regional territory. Today, its area of diffusion is limited to an area in the Ionian hinterland in the province of Cosenza, and to a lesser degree to Catanzaro. In this area the chitarra battente still enjoys a certain vitality and functionality and represents for many players the only ,Guitar and more in general the musical instrument par excellence. In an area further south (the province of Catanzaro and that of Reggio) the instrument is to be found in a simplified model with a flat back and its organological characteristics are strongly influenced by the guitar (see Pl. V (b)). The chitarra battente is used above all for the accompaniment of singing and for this type of use the instrument is considered particularly suited. In fact, the wealth of the harmonics that can be produced on it as well as the narrowness of the range, creates a sound texture that favours vocal emission and firmness of singing. The players express this characteristic by staring that the chitarra battente 'envelops and sustains the voice'. The accompaniment repertoire of the instrument includes serenades (of love, scorn, friendship), alms gathering for Christmas and Easter and polyvocal songs. A very frequent type of serenade is that called a strofette (in verses) where two voices alternate the verses according to a fixed scheme: the first voice sings the strophe, the second takes it up and completes it, following a complex game of repetition, breaking up and recomposition of the lines-There is also an instrumental repertoire of - tarantellas and pizziche. Of particular interest is the performing technique, which is what probably gives the instrument its name (battente literally means striking'). The right hand runs the fingers over the length of the strings and at the same time rubs and/or strikes the soundboard thus creating a double harmonic-percussive effect of particular efficacy (ribbummu). A particular rotation movement of the right hand, called rotuliata, permits the playing of triplets. The left hand fingers the chords on the first three strings. The fourth string is never stopped and acts as a fixed drone in the dominant which. if there is a scordino, is doubled an octave higher.


The most widely spread form. of the mandolin in Calabria is the Neapolitan type, characterised by a pearshaped bombč body made from ribs of wood - but sometimes flat-backed - with a soundboard bent at the lower end, having,,- a mobile bridge, a neck ending in a flat pegboard slightly inclined backwards, posterior pegs or a modern machine system, and four double wire strings fixed to a lower tailpiece. The strings are tuned as follows: G2, D3, A3, E4. For the most part the mandolins to be found in Calabria today are factory-made, but the instrument is also hand-made locally by a number of instrument-makers, amongst whom are Vincenzo De Bonis of Bisignano (province of Cosenza) and Ricciotto Scutellā at Delianuova (province of Reggio Calabria). Like the guitar, the mandolin is a typical instrument belonging to the small-town-artisan circle, used in formation with other stringed instruments (guitar, violin) playing a vast repertoire of pieces that go from operettas to songs belonging to the sphere of light music. In the agro-pastoral ambit the mandolin appears in an interesting combination along with the chitarra battente playing a repertoire characteristic of the town of Corigliano in the province of Cosenza."


in Calabria there is a type of popular fiddle called lira belonging to the bowed-lute family and related to a group of instruments to be found all over the Mediterranean area. The lira (see PI. V (b)) presents particularly primitive construction features that are unusual for Italy. It is composed of a small pear-shaped body, a large neck and three strings. The body, neck and peg-board are all made from a single piece of wood - elderberry, pear, cherry, poplar, olive, wild olive - shaped and gouged in order to obtain a sound box. The sound-board is usually in spruce and has two half-moon or circular holes in its lower part. The bridge is placed between the two holes and sometimes it is connected with the back by means of a mobile cane sound-post. The strings, in the past made of gut, today of nylon, are attached to a tall-piece in leather fixed at the base and are tuned by three pegs fitted through the back of the pegboard, which latter can be triangular, quadrangular or circular. The bow is made from a rod of flexible wood on which horsehairs are stretched and treated with violin rosin. The instrument has no frets. The strings, which are at a certain distance above the neck, are pressed lightly with the tips of the fingers or sideways by the fingernails: the sounds are thus produced by harmonics. The three strings are tuned, respectively, on the second, fifth and first notes of the diatonic scale (see Ex. 9). During performance the bow touches two strings at the same time: first and second, or second and third. The melody is developed mostly on the first string; the second string (the dominant when open) is fingered during the final cadences so as to obtain the leading note before closing the phrase in the tonic (the open third string). One can observe the correspondence between the scale of the lira (Ex. 9) and that of the bagpipes of type Ill (Ex. 8).

EX. 9. Fiddle.

The lira is played sitting, held vertically on the knee. The left hand holds the instrument and fingers the strings; the right hand manoeuvres the bow. As well, the left wrist moves the instrument in rotation along its axis against the movement of the bow (bow to the right, rotation left and vice versa). Up until a few years ago the lira was considered extinct: the only information regarding it consisted of some bibliographical references and two instruments daring from the beginning of the present century kept in museums. These testified to the former presence of the instrument in the Tyrhennian area around Capo Vaticano (province of Catanzaro). Having disappeared from that area it has been recently 'refound' along the southern coast of the southern Ionian Sea where it counts a number of players, still active, and a player-maker living at Siderno (province of Reggio Calabria). He makes instruments of two different sizes (one of about 60 cm, the other 45 cm in length). The smaller one 'reconsidered 'portable' and is used on occasions such as marriages, baptisms, etc., when players are requested to take part. Nevertheless, it is normal for players of the lira to build and modify their instruments themselves and for this reason the sample models examined are not at all homogeneous. The repertoire of the lira includes slow airs and tarantellas as well as accompaniment for singing during serenades and alms gatherings.