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INSTRUMENTS OF ITALIAN ORIGIN

Published September 19, 2012 by Tony

ITALIAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS


The history of the GUITAR has its origins in Italy, where, following the schools of classical lutes, brought to the birth of different regional schools, which continue today with different styles and techniques.
The main schools were born in northern Italy, due to the influence of Stradivari violin making. Since Renaissance, great is the tradition of violin making in Tuscany, when the Medicis family began collecting instruments. The trade of stringed instruments Italians in France was facilitated by the figure of Catherine de Medicis and ended up passing in Spain where this instrument is widely used in the tradition of flamenco. The history of the electric guitar instead begins in America with jazz and blues.
A typical Italian guitar is the guitar swing, typical of the tradition of Calabria, Puglia, Basilicata, Abruzzo, Molise and of Campania, which we find in the center and south of Italy since the fourteenth century, with ever-evolving forms compared to the presumed model of the historic baroque guitar. Today is also known as Italian guitar as opposed to the “classical” guitar called as Spanish or French guitar. A distinguishing feature of this old guitar is its shaped like an elongated eight.

The oldest sources regarding VIOLIN enable us to trace its birth at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Most of the conventional assumptions place the appearance of the first real violins, with the same shape and tuning still used today, in the north of Italy, in Cremona and Venice. The new family of these string instruments appeared almost simultaneously in different parts of Europe: Northern Italy, France, Germany, Netherlands, especially in Brussels, Antwerp and Prague. This suggests that the violin was born as a musical instrument for buskers, during the first decades of the sixteenth century, by a fusion of different  instruments. In fact, its use becomes crucial to the gypsy folk music. In the sixteenth century it was mainly used in dance music, though in Italy very soon it took on noblest roles in the courts or in the churches. In 1530 in Italy we have the mention of a violin used during a Mass and about ten years later we find the violins in Venice, in various “schools of music” and during masses and processions.
Made famous by the Italian names of Stradivari, Amati and Guarneri related to this important instrument which becomes essential for the birth of Opera in Italy, at the same time with music opera and central Europe symphonic art.

For many years the ACCORDION was an instrument in the popular and folk-dance Italian tradition. It was born in Italy, from schools craft Castelfidardo, Ancona, Pavia. Its use is massive in the folk and popular tradition, with the Neapolitan tarantella, and the pinch (pizzica) in Puglia, who recently had a big comeback. He was born originally as an instrument for sacred music to accompany the singing during the processions, in contrast to its closest relative, the “concertina”, considered a more popular instrument.
The technical developments and construction of this instrument have increasingly improved its tone and its pitch, encouraging its presence in most cultured areas, so that the first patent for an “accordion”, a term used to indicate this instrument, was filed in 1829 in Vienna . In the Americas, particularly in Argentina, it became the “Bandoneon”,  a fundamental instrument of tango orchestras. The German immigrants took the instrument with them in Argentina, in the early twentieth century, and here quickly met great success, and was soon placed in the context of local music.

The origin of the classic MANDOLIN (or Neapolitan mandolin) dates back to the mid-seventeenth century, it is believed that from that time begins the production of mandolins by the famous “Casa Vinaccia”. Their mandolins were mostly rich in inlays of ivory and threadings along the handle, carried out with great care. It is due to the company Vinaccia the use of steel cords in lieu of the brass used at the beginning, that lacked volume and in timbre.

The term HARPSICHORD refers for a family of stringed musical instruments of Italian origin that have a keyboard, among which the most famous is the large instrument nowadays called harpsichord, but also the smaller ones like the spinet. These instruments generate sound by plucking a string rather than striking it, as in a piano or clavichord. The term itself comes from the Latin clavis, and can be considered the successor of cymbalum, an ancient instrument that was played by plucking the strings.

The ORGAN is an instrument of ancient origin. The first organ, the Hydraulis, was built in the third century BC by Ctesibus of Alexandria, designed by Archimedes. Two early descriptions of the organ can be found in Pneumatika of Heron of Alexandria (120 BC) and in “De Architectura” by Vitruvius (first century). Used in the Roman civilization and in the Byzantine area to celebrate public holidays, it will have a change of use due to a random event: in 757 when the emperor of Byzantium, Constantine Copronimo, made a gift of an organ to Pepin the Short, and he placed it in the church of St. Cornelius in Compiègne, France. Since then began the rapid spread of this instrument in areas of Christian worship and liturgy.

The REED-PIPE (different from the traditional bagpipe) is widespread in Calabria, although present in all European popular music and meet during the festivals, pilgrimages, folk manifestations and in many religious and profane occasions. It’s an instrument that is so dear as it brings us back to the celebratory atmosphere of Christmas and its beautiful melodies. The sweet reed-pipe’s sound is given from the particular reeds and from a sack (goatskin) that gives back an air supply. In Calabria the reed-pipes have four or five rods, the sack is made with sheep or goat’s skin whose size is proportional to the reels.

The SHAWM or pipe (called ciaramella or pipita in Italian) is a popular air instrument of the family of oboes with double reed. The Italian word “ciaramella” derives from the late Latin diminutive calamellus, female calamilla or calamella, derived in turn from the Latin word calamus, meaning “reed.” This popular musical instrument has spread throughout the central and southern Italy mostly.

The CASTAGNETTE is an idiophone musical instrument mainly used in Mediterranean folk music, often confused with the similar castanets. Each castagnette consists of two parts, in shaped wood, linked by a piece of cord, which allows to output the sound opening and closing them with the hands. They are used in pairs and each instrument gives a sound slightly different.

The standard OCARINA used in Western music was invented in Budrio, Italy, during the mid-nineteenth century by Giuseppe Donati. Its shape recalls the elongated ovoid profile of a goose (oca in Italian) without the head: the name is derived from ucarina, diminutive of oca in Bolognese dialect. According to available sources, it seems that Donati has invented the ocarina in 1853, at the age of 17 years. But Donati not just build ocarina of one size: the new and winning idea was to build a family of large and small ocarinas tuned to each other.

ITALIAN MYSTERIES

Published June 24, 2012 by Tony

THE SWORD IN THE STONE
MERLIN THE MAGICIAN IN ITALY?

Near the city of Siena is a place that has something “magical”.
It takes us back in time to the days of knights and of the mystery of the Holy Grail. Here is a sword stuck in a rock that recalls the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table.

San GalganoGalgano Guidotti was born of noble family in 1148, in a small wild and unspoiled village near the city of Siena, named Montesiepi, and like many other young knights of that time, he was proud and overbearing, and spent his youth  as libertine and thoughtless. Years later, he abandoned his frivolous world, disgusted by the atrocities committed and by what he had seen, to devote himself to a life of penance by a hermit and ascetic life.
In 1180, as a tangible sign of perpetual waiver to all forms of violence, plunged his sword into a rock outcropping above the ground, with the intention of using it as a cross to pray near, rather than as a weapon to offend. A great symbolic gesture of extreme force.
He did so on the hill where he had had his first mystical experiences and where his horse had stopped several times reverently kneeling before the apparition of the Archangel Gabriel. As a sign of faith, the rock on which many times the white horse was kneeling on, kept the lasting prints of his knees. This stone is now in Galgano’s birthplace house, in the village of Chiusdino, near Montesiepi. House where he lived Rotondauntil the time of his conversion, and inside the house, on a side of the altar dedicated to the saint, we can see the big rock.
Galgano (Gawain in English) died three years later in complete poverty, and in 1185 Pope Lucius III declared it holy. His beatification in 3 days and his sanctification in 4 years are surely a record. But somehow he was quickly forgotten as the abbey abandoned itself. Was Galgano an uncomfortable saint?

He was elected as patron of the city of Siena Galgano  skulland then replaced and downgraded to a lesser saint. In this church in Chiusdino, in a showcase, now remains only part of the skull of the saint. It is said that on the skull once grew up some blond hair, and this brought locals to elect him as the protector of bald people. In the years immediately following his death, on his hermitage was built a little church, known as the Rotonda or Montesiepi Chapel. The GPR has discovered a rectangular cavity present beneath the floor of the Rotunda. What will be it?
A few decades later, in 1218, began the building of the monumental complex of San Galgano, about 30 km west of Siena, which was consecrated in 1288. The Abbey of San Galgano has been for centuries an important road center and reference point for travelers, pilgrims and people of all kinds.
Abbazia_di_San_GalganoFrom 1348 onwards began the decline, due to different misadventures the abbey was abandoned over the years, until to become a dilapidated structure, then deconsecrated in 1789. The first restoration began in 1926 with the aim of preserving what remained of the original structure, which, strangely shares similarities with the Abbey of Glastonbury.
The Chapel of Montesiepi is, however, a small church located on a hill a few hundred yards from the abbey, and in the center of the chapel emerges from the floor the “Sword in the Stone“.
Some scholars point out that there are links between the story of San Galgano, and King Arthur’sSword in the Stone one, in fact both events took place in the twelfth century and between the name Galgano and Gawain, an Arthurian knight, there is particular similarity. But we are in the presence of situations in which history is mixed with myth and it is difficult to have certainty, although some coincidences and documentation that you will read in this post, bring us to hypothesize that Galgano’s sword is the one mentioned in the story of King Arthur and his knights.
The sword, at least judging from the visible portion protruding from the rock, seems to correspond exactly with regard to style, with a real sword of the twelfth century, and more precisely to the kind  Xa. ,according to the “Ewart Oakeshott universally accepted classification”. One of the leading experts on medieval swords, adviser to the Royal Armouries in Leeds, author of several books on the subject. The analysis of small fragments indicate values that are normal for a medieval bonesmetal without the presence of alloys or steels of the following years.
Inside the hermitage of Montesiepi are also preserved a couple of limbs that, according to tradition, belong to one of three envious people that, in 1181, in the absence of San Galgano, attempted to seize the sword,  but failing then they broke it. Galgano felt all this in a dream and, gone back immediately to Montesiepi, unleashed on the three traitors monks the God’s wrath. One of them drowned in the river, the second was struck by lightning and the third devoured by a wolf that tore his arms. Theabbazia backdating, performed by carbon-14 method, in the course of analysis has traced that these hands, kept in the hermitage, are of the twelfth century.
Montesiepi, where stands the monastery of San Galgano, alludes to a sacred place, enclosed by hedges, hidden to outsiders because above were celebrated pagan rites and sacrifices. This tradition of fencing was typical of Celtic sacred sites. Another oddity is the old name for Montesiepi: Cerboli, reminiscent of the Deer (cervo in Italian), the sacred animal of the Celts, as the name of a near village, called  Brenna, would recall the Celtic hero Bran. The same hermitage of San Galgano is an enigma. It’s built in a circle, often considered a demonic form, because linked to the ancient pagan temples. The vault is formed by concentric circles, whose center is perfectly at the zenith of the sword. The
48 circles consisting of white stones and red bricks recall the circular Celtic decorations. Stones that weirdly have been dated 150 years older than the structure.

Arcidosso, in the province of Grosseto, is dotted with ancient esoteric grottosymbols that speak also of the Knights Templar, while in the near Mount Amiata is a rather strange cave. Grotto, whose history is lost in the mists of time, which not even the local youths know its existence. Is this the cave where, according to legend, Merlin the magician repaired? Merlin the magician was not stood still in Scotland, but is said to have traveled the world to share his knowledge and acquire other, and who knows if he has not come even in Tuscany. It’s a massive cave beneath a chestnut, now partially collapsed and drowned by shrubs, and its opening once had a broken stone now missing, which carried the inscription: “This is the ancient and memorable cave builtcavern by Merlin, the wise magician, here Peri, the natural induced muse, explained his genius portentous and vague“.  Gian Domenico Peri was a local poet (1564 – 1639). By a geo-radar has been found that  in the soil of the cave there are some metallic objects, with one large and circular. Who knows.
An ancient legend tells that in this area there was a dragon (Santa Fiora’s dragon). The friars of the convent of La Selva, near the village of Santa Fiora, had noticed for some time the presence of a hideous and gigantic dragon, which had established in the woods. It not only ate cows, sheep and other animals, but its ferocity came to kill a man a day, choosing among shepherds, woodcutters and friars, who were so decimated. The friars sought help from the Count Guido, belonging to the families of Aldobrandeschi and Bosio Sforza, who was unable to kill the animal and so they decided to seek help from the wizard Merlin, who at that time had taken up residence in a cave in the dragonwoods between Arcidosso and San Lorenzo. It is said that Merlin summoned the “knight Giorgio” because he had already killed vicious dragons, and for this became a saint, and subsequently patron saint of Genoa. He was immediately welcomed by Count Guido of Santa Fiora and monks in the monastery and with the help of Merlin, the knight George was able to kill the dragon, finally. It is said that the jaw preserved by the monks in the vestry of the Chiesa della Trinità, which is part of the convent of La Selva, is precisely that of the monstrous dragon.


Coincidences, parallelisms, similarities or reality and truth …. who knows!