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Thread: Italian folk music on mando

  1. #1
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    Who is the the guy from san Francisco who made an album a #few years back of Italian folk music? #I believe the word "fountain " was in the title. #It was just him and a #guitar, very nicely done. #I'm looking for sources for mando music from Italy that are authentic and straight forward, not a giant orchestra with dozens of mandos blazing away.

    As I recall there was a #website associted with him or his album that would allow you to download some tunes.


    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Brian

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    That "Italian guy" you're referring to is Matteo Casserino, who recorded "Silent Fountain" with guitarist Gino DiMichele. Unfortunately, both are deceased, and I believe the album is long since out of print. The site you are referring to is from a pianist who often played with him at Caffe Trieste in San Francisco's North Beach . . . .I think the site is www.brucezweig.com, but I'm not positive. This site has (free) mp3 recordings of quite a few of Matteo's tunes, as well as transcriptions for the mandolin part.

    For more detailed info, or if the site above is wrong, I'd suggest emailing Sheri Mignano (sfmignano@yahoo.com)--she's a superb accordianist who played with Matteo, and published an amazing book this year containing transcriptions,for mandolin and guitar, of over 100 traditional "ballo liscio" tunes (the genre to which you refer).

    Similar style recordings, also from the San Francisco Bay Area, are by Tony Flores (? out of print) and The Hot Frittatas (still alive and thriving--this group has a more modern approach to a lot of these tunes, not as "pure," but still wonderful).

    Matt Vuksinich
    (I play mandolin in Sheri's bands "Mattinata di Matteo," which continues the tradition at Matteo's old haunt in North Beach, and Zighi Baci (www.zighibaci.com)

  3. #3
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Matt answered the question right on, but Sheri's second book just came out, and had its release at City Lights Books last week. The Tony Flores CD is not exactly OP, but the original pressing plant we used (I produced it and play guitar on it) seems to be down for the count, and we're just about out of product. So we're looking for an alternative now. Most of Tony's good Italian tunes are in Sheri's book, and she is Ground Zero for mandolin charts, though I have tons of charts as well.
    .
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    Thanks to all, this is the material I was looking for.
    I play Irish Trad but was exposed to this type of music growinn up. I 've been told that this type of Italian music is really very local to Naples and some other nearby towns, and that you would not hear it much outside of that region. Does anyone have an opinion on this? If this is true, what do you call the music from the east coast and the north of Italy and where can one find quality examples ofmusic from thes and other regions of Italy?

    Thanks again in advance for the comments.

    Brian

  5. #5
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Naples is a real hotbed alright, arguably Ground Zero for the Italian mandolin, historically, musically and organologically, but other places in Italy have strong mandolin traditions, notably Rome, Florence, Genova and Ticino, which is in Switzerland.

    The Neapolitan song tradition is huge in the south, and deeply admired everywhere, which is why everyone plays it to some extent. Likewise the tarantella, the dance from Taranto, which is close by Naples, has a special prominence in the south. In its purest form, it's an ecstatic dance accompanied only by tambourine and various percussion.

    I played guitar for many years for a Ticinese mandolinist named Riccardo Tunzi. His repertoire was quite different than what the southerners played - more polkas and straight dance tunes and less song, which has tempo changes and so on. The tarantella's northern cousin, the monfrina, does get played across the north of the Italian realm, but barely happened in his repertoire.

    Tony Flores, my other main guy, was from Sicily, which is not so far from Naples. He was an opera nut too, and a typical southern player. The era of commercial recording really spread the southern music all over Italy, not to mention throughout the Italian diaspora around Europe and North America. Sheri Mignano's new book, Mandolins, like Salami, really explains this stuff well.
    .
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  6. #6

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    mattrat - thanks heaps for the bruce zweig site - wonderful stuff. the tuscans refer to this music as "musica populare" - "musica folkloristica" is something else, something my anglo-saxon ears haven't been able to distinguish as yet. there was a group here in town this past week playing "musica populare" from tuscany. "regionalismo" is rampant here in italy and you wouldn't want to be caught playing a tarantella, for example, from the dreaded south - no-no-no ...

    nb - the italians have an ambivalent attitude to this beautiful music. a cafe.contributor named plamen noticed the same thing, playing for vacationing italians in romania. i don't know why but it takes a long time for their toes to start moving and after that, some of them will break into song but it's not popular music in the way that folk music in the us or the uk is, for example.

    most of it dates from the 19th cent. i suppose it's "folk" music in the way that stephen foster, for example, is "folk" in the states. categories mean nothing.

    thanks again for the site.

  7. #7
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    The Bruce Zweig site does in fact have the entire Silent Fountain album as free mp3 download, and I very highly recommend it.

    Sheri Mignano's Ballo Liscio book is wonderful, too, but I believe that she has sold out the first printing (I got the last copy a few months ago). She said that a second edition, with some extra tunes, was on the way, so maybe that's available now. I love playing the charts for the Matteo recordings!

    Personally, I find that the tone of a good bowlback is better suited to this material than the Gibson A used by Matteo, but that's personal preference and it works just fine on flat mandolins.

    Another good source for Italian folk dances is here, where you'll find 72 dances, such as "Monferrina, Sbrando, Courenta, Valzer, Polca, Mazurca, Saltarello, Saltarella, Tarantella etc", all in abc format.

    Martin

  8. #8

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    grazie martino ... it really is christmas! - but in the manner of the flummoxed father with "ez" instructions, expectant bambini and rising blood-pressure ... what does all this mean:

    X: 1
    T:Bourrée tournante des grandes poteries
    M:3/8
    L:1/8
    K:C
    e/f/|:geg|g/e/ce/f/|geg|g2 d/e/|\
    fdd|d2c/d/|ecc|1 c2e/f/:|2 cBA||
    |:G2A|G2A|Gcd|e2e|&#92 ;
    dcd|cBA|1 GAG|e2c:|2 Ged|c3||

    assuming it's abc format, do you know of a site that explains it?

    auguri - bill

  9. #9
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Bill -- abc notation is a very powerful way of encoding music in a standard text format. There is lots of info on the notation at the ABC Homepage. However, you don't need to understand all of that in order to convert the tunes I've linked to standard notation. The easiest way is to get the free program ABC Navigator and open the .abc text file in that program. It will covert them all to standard notation and play them.

    Martin

    PS: An alternative ABC program, with a visually more appealing standard notation output, is ABCedit.




  10. #10
    Registered User Plamen Ivanov's Avatar
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    Hello,

    I can hardly add something more to what Paul and Bill said, but yes - while foreigners like the traditional popular Italian music, the Italians don`t seem to be very excited by listening to it. As a member of a mandolin orchestra I have travelled with an Italian music program around Europe and we were delighted with the standing ovations of Germans, Dutch, British, Spain, etc. people. And although Italians are not very fond of listening to that kind of music, they are proud of it and look at it as an important part of their culture influence. I remember once we played at the representation of the Italian company "Mondo"`s products (as far as I remember they produce some kind of sport equipment). The Italian ambassador was also there, sitting in the front row. After we played three Neapolitan pieces, he came to us, shaked our hands, took my mandolin and said very excited to the audience: "That`s a symbol of Italy". Another case, that I remember is connected with an Italian who often visited the restaurant that we played in few years ago. It was his contention that Romano Prodi (President of the European Commission then) has to grant us free access to the Commission, so we can play Italian music there.

    Of course, it`s the same with the Bulgarian (and other traditional) folklore music. While the foreigners find it attractive, it`s not what the local people listen to everyday. But it`s really exciting to see Japanese people dancing Bulgarian dances and singing in a language quite different than their.

    Just sharing some observations and thoughts...

    Back to the topic. I`m bored with Italian music, especially with the Neapolitan songs. I still like Nord Italian music, especially the compositions by G. Sartori.

    Does anybody know the Italian Acoustic Duo Alessandro Boni - mandolin (don`t mix him up with Alessandro Bono, who is guitar player and performs with Ugo Orlandi) and Silvano Brun - guitar? I think, they deserve greater popularity - very good players, showing interest in every kind of traditional and classical music suitable for mandolin.

    In the region of San Francisco you can find the duo Al (Anselmo) Fabrizio and Hugo Wainzinger, who also perform traditional Italian music. I`m not going to refer to their CD as to a "must have" or something. While I like the guitar playing, the mandolin playing on contrary is not very good. May be someone can find the arrangements interesting. I personally don`t like them very much.

    Good luck!




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    I understand that the Neapolitan mandolin tradition was pretty much laid to rest by Mussolini and the Fascists in the 30s. Along with getting the trains to run on time, visions of folks just hanging out and playing music in the streets for tourist change were giving the Wrong Image of Italy, and it was harshly suppressed. Then too, it was not a music that was heavily supported by the upper crust; tarred with the brush of peasantry and Idle Riffraff, it was soon viewed as a potentially dangerous embarassment.

    Just another service for you all by the Politically Active Culture Police.

    Meanwhile, as Paul Sparks notes in his book The Classical Mandolin, Respighi was writing traditional folk melodies into his orchestral works, to great acclaim by the Powers That Be (or should I say "Were"?). I for one am tired of the vicious ironies that Life Its Ownself insists on tossing at us. Sometimes I think that Someone Up There has a twisted sense of humor.

    I am given hope by Paul H's post above, and I'd be thrilled to find that there's still remnants, or more, of the old ways still extant. Most of my info is from Sparks and such, along with some input from others aware of the traditions of the region; I suspect that, like the Greek Rembetiko, the original sources were pretty well suppressed, and modern revivals might lack a certain something. I'd love to be proved wrong.

    Plami's point is also significant. Folk music is not terribly challenging; it's meant to provide entertainment as dance music and in a repertoire of popular songs and such. As the conditions in which people live and assemble for the purpose of relaxation and entertainment change, some aspects become "old-fashioned", and some become impossible. With access to mass media music, few folks sit down and roll their own any more. Fortunately, much of the old traditions have been kept alive, if barely, by folklorists and musicologists, but with the gradual eroding of the way of life that gave them breath, the spark can easily flicker out. So all of you out there who believe in pixies, clap your hands . . . .

  12. #12
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

  13. #13
    Richard J.
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    Mary-Is this the type of music you play? The neopolitan style was/is played by my father (who also wrote many of his own) and I learned from him at a very young age. I still enjoy it the most at 43 and am searching for a local guitar player who enjoys the same to play this music with. I play guitar also, but it's really hard to do at the same time...I also have a collection from Tony Flores on cd made for me as well as a collection of 78's with several of the greats.



    "The older I get, the better I was!"

  14. #14

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    rick, i wish i could say i was familiar with half those tunes as naples is where most of my family was from (we still have family there). it is something that i would like to delve into, but have been working on more of the italian aria/song stuff of late.

    send me a pm. i play the guitar also. and yes, it is very hard to play both at the same time. i've tried to force my son into being my duo partner, but he is more interested in italian cars than music.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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    I'm not sure this is where to post this, but since it was mentioned here, I will. Could someone explain how to get the ABC tunes into the ABC Navigator? I downloaded the free Navigator, went to the site mentioned previously in this thread, but couldn't figure out how to get the tune into the Navigator to be changed into standard notation. I would be grateful for any help.
    Daniel Kaufman

  16. #16
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    Daniel: The site I linked (here) hosts a number of links to files with the suffix ".abc". These are just text files, each of which contains a considerable number of tunes. Right-click on these links to save the ".abc" file to your hard disk (the direct link to the Italian file is here).

    Now launch ABC Navigator. Within the program, open the ".abc" file on your hard disk using either the "File|Open" menu or the "Open abc file" icon on the tool bar on the top of the screen, or press "CTRL-O". Once you'veopened the file, you will see a list of 72 names of tunes in the main window. Single-click on any tune and you will see the standard notation at the bottom of the screen, double-click on a tune and the program will also play it. If you experiment a bit with the menu options, you'll find that you can customise quite a bit in this program. Looking on the web, you'll find many hundreds of tune collections in abc format, so this is a very useful little program.

    Good luck -- let me know if you have problems.

    Martin




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    Martin, Thank you so much for your help. That did the trick. Thanks, again.
    Daniel Kaufman

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Easy site to deal with existing abc tunes is concertina.net. They have a feature called tune-o-tron. You paste the abc code into it and it generates standard notation in gif ro pdf as well as a midi of the tune as well. Very handy.

    Jim
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  19. #19
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Strictly speaking, this ballo liscio music is not really folk music, i.e., it has known composers. I would say it is closer to French Cafe music AKA musette. Mazurkas, waltzes, tangos, tarantellas, etc.

    Some of the old players can be heard on some 78 collections that I highly recommend: Rounder 1095 entitled Italian String Virtuosi. This mainly features Italian American players of mandolin, guitar and banjo and includes some greats ones: Giovanni Vicari; Giovanni Giovale, Bernard De Pace, Frank Fazio and others.

    As a companion to that Rounder issue are two CDs on the Global Village label: CD 602 L'APPUNTAMENTO - ITALIAN MANDOLIN 1 and CD 603 SPERANZE PERDUTE - ITALIAN MANDOLIN 2.

    In addition, I have sheet music scans of some of these Italian as well as other period tunes on my 19th Century Tunes page.

    Jim



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  20. #20

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    don't know if this constitutes "folk" music or not but i picked up an inexpensive cd on italian ebay recently entitiled " 'a serenata 'e pulecencella ... sotto il cielo d'amalfi." it's a straight forward, mandolin/guitar duo from naples (francesco d'amato, mandolin and sergio vettore, guitar) playing the sort of songs you might expect. yes, it's a little corny and yes, it's great! recording quality is ok, the sort of thing you might/might not pick up in a supermarket bin. but as this is a DIY operation - d'amato put the disc up for auction himself - and i was curious, i plonked my money down. he wrote and thanked me even ...

    just checked - there are none left on ebay now but i hope he offers them again.

    torna a surriento ... 'o sole mio ... maria mari ... ahhhh ....

  21. #21
    Registered User Plamen Ivanov's Avatar
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    I gave up acquiring CDs like this. I have more than 20 CDs with Italian music and they are more or less the same: "Mandolins from Italy", "Mandolino Italiano", "La bella Italia", "Mandolins, Pizza and tarantella", "Oili Oila Italian Mandolin", "Srenata Italiana", etc. etc.

    It`s time for us to record one of those #

    Bill, enjoy your new CD! No kidding. I like the Italian music very much, but I`m so bored... O, Sole Mio, Torna Sorriento, Santa Lucia, Non ti scordar di me ... arrgghhh...

    Good luck!




  22. #22

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    more than 20! ... that says much for your dedication and your commitment - i'd have stopped at two, i think.

    funny thing about a song that get played to death, so many times you simply can't bear to hear again ... after a while it suddenly sounds wonderful again. in the mp3 section on the cafe there's a great rendition of "oh suzanna" by warren malone, for example.

    by definition, isn't art created by making a cliché seem new?

  23. #23
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    So true. I was teaching last summer outside of Florence and the guy, Nino, who was the cook in the villa-and "cook" hardly even gets near it-was an amateur singer. "Amateur" in the best of senses-for the love of it-. He sang "Santa Lucia" one night with piano accompaniment. Knocked me out. It was as if I never heard it before. Amazing.

    I played "Vesti La Giubba" on the mando sitting on his kitchen table. He sang. I was weeping.

    This trove of songs from Matt via Bruce Zweig's site is amazing. What a treasure! I'm headed to SF next break and check this out in person.
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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Just stepped through the whole ABC set up process. Vielen danke(n?) to Martin for the links. There is even a version for Mac I'm happy to say: http://celticmusic.ca/skink.dmg.gz

    The 72 dances ought to keep me busy for awhile.

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  25. #25

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    I agree with brunello97 - the Bruce Zweig site was a MAJOR find. So far I have spent a LOT of time manually transcribing songs from CDs to tab format. The Silent Fountain songs doubled my reperatoire of Italian songs in one swoop. Thanks Matt!

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