Friend and faithful reader Gil recently sent me a notice about the screening of Zampogna: The Soul of Southern Italy at the John D. Calandra Italian-American Institute; I wasn’t able to make it to NYC for the event, but I did love the trailer:
Those unfamiliar with southern Italian music may be surprised to hear bagpipes, which are more closely associated with Scotland, in the mix, but indeed the “zampogna” tells you you’re in southern Italy as well. Although they are most commonly heard at Christmas, le zampogne also show up at many festivals, including this summer’s Tarantella Power in Badolato:
Traditionally shepherds played the zampogna — the bag part of the instruments used to be made exclusively with goat or sheep hide — but, much like the various dialects that run through southern Italy, so do the type of zampogne; some are meant mostly for the tarantella, some are double- or single-reeded, etc.
If you aren’t used to hearing bagpipes, the sound may be jarring at first, but please do give it a few seconds to speak to you.
Let yourself fall into its trance and imagine the humble southern Italian shepherd walking on foot to the church from his pasture, miles outside of town, with nothing more to offer than the rhythm and melodies of his music through an instrument crafted from his life’s work with his own hands.
Let the sounds reverberate through your body, reaching deep into the Earth, carrying you along with each note on that same journey, grateful for all you have, appreciative of each day for all it brings, and knowing that so long as you have a chunk of pecorino, some homemade bread, and a roof to keep out the winter rain and wind, life is pretty darn good.
Evviva la zampogna!