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The Cantu a tenore comes from the pastoral culture of Sardinia, a polyphony composed of several voices executed by a group of four men. The singers form a circle and the soloist strikes up the melody, prose or poem, while the other voices accompany him in chorus. Following the popular tradition, the “mesu boche” (middle voice) imitates the wind sound, while the contra imitates the ewe’s call and the bassu the cow. This vocal art is an integral part of the day to day life and is often spontaneous practiced in the pubs, but during official opportunities as weddings as well. The Canto a Tenore is embracing a huge repertoire, which completely differs from a region to another at a point that one can recognize an own style in every single village. The texts are ancient or contemporary poems about among other things emigration, unemployment or politics.


The Albanese musical tradition of polyphony comes from an oral transmission. Many melismas emerge from a complex harmonic background, with surprising sounds reminding the call of birds or bleating animals. The Albanese iso-polyphony, technic consists in vocals harmonics developed over a maintained buzzing note. In 2005, it was declared “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by the UNESCO.


The « Runes Songs » establish the singing tradition background in Finland. These epic poetries are sung with various alliterations. A part of those poems was put on paper around the 9th century and published in the “Kalevala”, since considered as one of the most important work in the Finnish literature. Those texts had a great influence on the artists but in day-to-day life the Runes Songs were partly lost. Finland is also the cradle of other vocals traditions such as the “Jooik” in Lapland. The Jooik is a spiritual elegy sung a cappella, mostly dedicated to a person, animal or landscape.


In Madagascar, music is a key in social, spiritual and material life. The Malagasy music is really diversified, because it was influenced by musical traditions from South-East Asia, Africa, Arabian World, United Kingdom, France and United States. The traditional musical instruments reflect these varied origins. The vocal traditions in Madagascar are often poly-harmonics ; vocal styles from the south are similar to the South African voices, the harmonics from the mountains are strongly influenced by coming from the European church music, and at the same time reminding us vocal traditions from Hawaii and Polynesia. In the southern and western coastal regions, the singing is made with an ornamentation more elaborated than in the mountainous regions, where vocal performance is made by huge groups of people.


In Belgium as well, the songs - transmitted from generation to generation – were part of the day-to-day life in the countryside and in town. At that time the women mostly were singing during a lot of fastidious tasks like weeding, sewing, milking… The Belgian history cannot do without the famous street sellers, knives sharpeners and boilermakers, with their songs that were coloring life from the cities. With the twentieth century had begun the disappearance of those popular songs, that continued after the 2nd World War. Thanks to a great research work, many songs were recorded, stored and are still sung by contemporary folk musician. However, in the day-to-day life, this tradition completely disappeared.

Pictures : ©Dieter Telemans

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