- Avery Book (bassu)
- Carl Linich (contra)
- Gideon Crevoshay (mesu boche)
- Douglas Paisley (boche)
Our idea of learning Sardinian songs remained a fantasy until 2008, when I discovered a wonderful video on YouTube by Tenores di Bitti, with each voice part sung in isolation, and then together with the other parts. It was our Rosetta Stone! Now we knew what to do. We found two other singing friends, Avery Book and Gideon Crevoshay, who were also interested in trying it. Avery was really the key to making our quartet happen, because he had taught himself how to do guttural throat singing - although he probably hadn’t imagined that he might use it for Sardinian songs! We now had our quartet, and we had some teachers in that video. All we needed was a song to sing.
Our first song also came to us from Tenores di Bitti, from their wonderful web site, where we
found the complete text to their recording of Ballu Dillu. We gathered at Gideon's house and
started trying to make some sounds. It was not easy, and it took a while before we had something that sounded much like what the Sardinians did, but we kept working and gradually it started to come to life. Our biggest challenge was the distance that separated us. However, despite this, we’ve managed to meet periodically and work up quite a few Sardinian songs. To be fair to our other repertoire, we had all sung Corsican and Italian songs before trying Sardinian, and we also share a love for that music. However, we know that we would never have come together just for that repertoire, and it’s really because of Sardinian singing that we are here today. We look forward to many more years of learning and enjoying this rich and beautiful tradition - and hopefully, we’ll make our first trip to Sardinia in 2012!
Cantu a tenore is a form of polyphonic singing performed by a group of four men using four
different voices: bassu, contra, boche (oche) and mesu boche (mesu oche). The deep, guttural timbre of the bassu and contra voices produce ringing overtones, which are expanded by the mesu boche. This rich aural texture is essentially a canvas for the boche, who is the main soloist and sings almost all of the text. The song form is typical of the region of Barbagia and other parts of central Sardinia. Performances are often spontaneous and done in local bars, but also at more formal occasions, such as weddings and religious festivities. Canto a tenore covers a large repertoire; the lyrics are sometimes ancient, and sometimes contemporary poems on present-day issues such as emigration and politics.
In this way, the tradition has remained alive and something that still connects closely to Sardinia’s past and present in equally strong measure.
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