Nicola Scaldaferri, editor: Santi, Animali e Suoni; Feste dei campanacci a Tricarico e San Mauro Forte

Nicola Scaldaferri, editor: Santi, Animali e Suoni; Feste dei campanacci a Tricarico e San Mauro Forte

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Nota CD-Book 2005

A volume in the series "Musica e Cultura Tradizionale della Basilicata," the book/CD Santi, Animali e Suoni focuses on the festivals of San Antonio Abate, at the beginning of the carnival season, in Tricarico and San Mauro Forte, villages in the southern Italian province of Basilicata. The music and sounds include unique and thunderous mixes of bells and bagpipes and double reeds. This CD-book includes historical, ethnographic, and ethnomusicological essays by distinguished Italian scholars Febo Guizzi, Francesco Marano, Fernando Mirizzi and editor Nicola Scaldaferri, as well as photographs by Stefano Vaja and a soundscape CD by Steven Feld.

All texts in this book are in Italian. Below are English language notes by Steven Feld about the CD and his participation in the volume.

Notes by the Sound Recordist

I came to San Mauro Forte and Tricarico not as an expert of Italian festivals, but as a sound recordist interested in documenting bell customs around the world. Everything was new and exciting to my ears, but I quickly learned that recording the Sant’ Antonio Abate festivals presented a real technical challenge.

By far the most important challenge was to evoke the sense of auditory space that one experiences with the movement of the bells and instruments through the villages. In the bright light of day, and the cool air of night, sound carries in different ways, being absorbed by listeners while reflecting off of all surrounding surfaces. The constant changes in the presence of multiple bells and bell groups produce different sensations when near or distant; their sounds change when they are mixed with instruments. Their presence feels unique when they approach directly, or from behind, or from around corners, ascending or descending hills and roads.  And they are heard differently again when they are fixed right next to you, and then pass by into the crowd.

I wanted to make recordings that recreate the dynamic sensation of all this movement of the passing bells and instruments. For this I used a special microphone technology called DSM. The two extremely sensitive microphones are worn on my head, one at each ear, and they record a surround sound image that is richer than conventional stereo, presenting more of the height and depth of sounds, as well as more of the relation of their center to periphery. You will experience the  dimensionality of this auditory space even more forcefully if you listen with headphones. Those interested in this technology can learn more at The microphone model used for the present recording is the DSM 6S/EH, together with the matching preamplifier PA-24NJ. The recording medium was digital audio tape, using a Sony PCM-M1 DAT recorder.

Editing the recordings was the second challenge. Of course the festivals take place over hours and hours.  So to tell their story in a brief sound essay I took sections from each event, sounds that represented key parts of the unfolding of festival time. These segments were then edited together into composed narratives, one each for Tricarico and the two nights of Campanaccio. For each of these compositions I layered the selected segments in the ProTools multitrack editing software on the Mac G5 computer, overlapping the end of one to the beginning of the next.  By mixing the segment overlaps, each of the three pieces can be heard as a continuous soundscape that respects the natural order of events as they took place, but uses multitrack editing technology to compress time and create a seamless narrative. Because  I would like the listener also to be able to hear the uniqueness of each segment in the larger pieces, I have placed internal index numbers on the CD to represent the points of overlap of the conjoined segments. The track configuration, with brief descriptive titles for each segment, is below.

 TRICARICO (6 segments)

Track 1- Gathering of bells

Track 2- Procession of Bells

Track 3- Instruments Join the Procession

Track 4 -Arrival at the Piazza

Track 5- Solo Zampogna Songs

Track 6- Interruption of Sound System

 CAMPANACCIO I (4 segments)

Track 7- At the Church

Track 8- Arrival of Drummers

Track 9- Passing of Bell Groups

Track 10- Sound Check with Neotraditional Band

 CAMPANACCIO  II (6 segments)

Track 11- Bells in Procession

Track 12- Bells and Instruments, 1

Track 13- Bells and Instruments, 2

Track 14- At a Small Party

Track 15- Passing Bells

Track 16- Bells and Instruments, 3

I should add that no attempt was made to remove the sounds of modern life or new innovations in the festival. The cars, sound systems, and pre-recorded music of Tricarico, like the medieval drum corps and staged neo-traditional stage band at Campanaccio, are included here. They may be recent additions to these events, but their sounds are heard in complete interaction with the more traditional sounds of festival bells and musical instruments.

It was a great pleasure to participate in this collaboration with Italian colleagues. For their help with the recording project I am deeply grateful to Dorothy Zinn, who invited me to Basilicata and made Locanda di San Martino my home in Matera; to Nicola Scaldaferri, my colleague and road companion, for encouraging and guiding this experiment from start to finish; the musicians Alberico Larato and Zi’ Agostino Carlomagno for their skill and enthusiasm; and, of course, the people of San Mauro Forte and Tricarico for their warm hospitality and kindness to a stranger with funny equipment on his head.


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