Songs are like treasures, preserved so they can be appreciated by future generations. We share them with the world before they disappear from our conscience. If they are not cared for, like a language, they could simply be lost . And so it goes for the women's choir 'Donni Sò'* which was founded in Berlin in 2005.
'Divina Consoladora' / 'Heavenly Comforter'
The painful pain
Give us a cure for our suffering...
La Pagliarella /'May Song
Here is May, for all who want to see it
May all landlords bring me a lamb!
He comes over and over again - and will come back!
Welcome was the May, welcome was the May
"Mistress of the house, go to sleep
And if there are no eggs, take the chicken"...
"Mistress of the house, go out to get some bacon
Cut it carefully and wash your hands."
Donni Sò „DIVINA CONSOLADORA“
Donni Sò „LA PAGLIARELLA“
Traditionally, the most beautiful voice was not the most beautiful 'sound', but rather the loudest; those which could be heard at the other end of the village, a power that has been lost in the confines of modern cities. The rhythm of the songs are determined by the breathing and mood of the song - and the singers - as opposed to being reliant on an instrumental beat . Their tonality, which also includes quarter tones, is perhaps unusual, for an ear accustomed to an equal-tempered scale. The choir director Annunziata Matteucci is an Ethnomusicologist who's family roots come from the Tuscany and Abruzzo regions. She has has an innate connection to Italian folk songs since childhood, having heard her grandmother singing a cappella with neighbors in three-part harmonies. However, it is a treasure Matteucci did not fully discover and appreciate at the time, her ears being somewhat 'closed' to the music on such occasions, she recalls.
In Paris, many years later, she 'rediscovered' these songs when she met Giovanna Marini, the Italian singer, composer and, like Matteucci, an Ethnomusicologist. In the 1960's, Marini began to transcribe a modern notation system for Italian work songs, collecting and cataloging them. In the 1990s, she held a professorship in Ethnomusicology at the University of Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint Denis, where Annunziata Matteucci would soon begin to study. They haven't let go of Italian folk songs ever since, traveling regularly to Italy, studying old songs, and building a repertoire that would eventually form the basis of their future choir project in Berlin.
The choir 'Donni Sò' was founded as a result of such an expedition. In 2005, Annunziata traveled from Germany to Sardinia, Italy with a group of thirty women to take part in the Easter processions in various Sardinian cities. In Orosei, Nuoro province, on the east coast of the island , they stumbled upon 'Consoladora Divine', a song from the local community. Traditionally it was sung by four singers, the so-called 'Tenors', at the holy Mary's Feast in September. The women became familiar with the song whilst listening to one such 'village ensemble' performance. They practiced in the ruins of an old church. The men sang, the women listened, learned and eventually participated. This was an unusual situation for all involved. These traditional songs are normally passed down from father to son to grandson. The Sardinians were amazed and proud that women from Germany were interested in their old music, and with this song the women had been given a special treasure. They brought it back to Berlin and it became the first song in the newly-formed choir's repertoire.
'La Pagliarella' comes from Fossalto, a municipality in the Molise region, part of Cambobasso province. Known colloquially as 'The Spring Welcome' or 'May Song', it describes the goings-on at a festive occasion and what wonderful food will be served. The song was brought to Berlin by an Ethnomusicologist friend of Annunziata Matteucci. He recorded it in Fossalto and subsequently presented to the choir at a seminar.