Giovanni Avantaggiato - CD
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cd cover Giovanni Avantaggiato
M'oli tin passiuna - Suoni e canti di Corigliano d'Otranto ()

In Corigliano d'Otranto, one of the most important towns of the Greca Salentina of southern Italy, there are several families or individuals who have cultivated a particularly intense musical heritage and who are reference points today for their fellow townspeople and for scholars. One of the most notable is Giovanni Avantaggiato, a musician with a lively personality, over 80 years old, who with his hand organ and his voice, is one of the most important repositories in all of the Greek-influenced area of the Salento.

   

Listen:
Marzucco
pizzica pizzica
diavika....

It is increasingly rare to find a town where the local musical tradition is a patrimony which extends among the entire community and is shared by all its members. For decades, the disintegration of values, models, and forms of expression have created a scarcity of a collective patrimony, and it is increasingly common for a particular ethno-musical heritage to be entrusted to those individual families who most tenaciously conserve the use and practice of the tradition. In Corigliano d’Otranto, one of the most important towns of the Greca salentina (a part of Apulia and the largest Greek-speaking part of Italy, a probable remnant of medieval Bizantine civilization), there are several families or individuals who have cultivated a particularly intense musical heritage and who are reference points today for their fellow townspeople and for scholars.

One of these reference points is Giovanni Avantaggiato: A musician with a lively personality, over 80 years old, who with his hand organ and his voice, is one of the most important repositories in all of the Greek-influenced area of the Salento. In the last 30 years, he has been responsible for bringing together elder musicians, and he was among the founders of the Coriglianese folk music group “Argalio” in the 1970’s. In recent years Giovanni has brought together musicians young and old to keep alive an interest in the vast collection of “grike” (greek) songs of his hometown. Even the Greek language is at risk, as young generations tend to speak the more common Salentino dialect. In documenting the musical knowledge of Giovanni and the other musicians present, an interesting familial musical heritage emerged, especially on the part of his wife, Angela. The couple’s own children and grandchildren are also able to participate musically.

The CD displays various repertories for voice and instrumental songs for dancing.

Among the songs, there are various types of stornelli, both in “Griko” and in “Salentino”. Once upon a time, there was a great number of texts (in couplets, tercets, and quatrains) born from a variety of poetic occasions (serenades or courtship exchanges, farm work, gatherings of friends, wedding celebrations) often improvised according to the inspiration of the moment. Quite interesting is the modality of execution of the polyphonic singing known as “a paravoce”, in which one voice leads and sings the first part of a phrase of the song and one or more other voices picks up and follows the leader in parallel thirds for the second part of the phrase and the repeats. Among work songs the album presents a trainiera o carrettiera piece, typically sung by the cart drivers who carried goods on old fashioned two-wheeled carts pulled by a team of horses. There is also a trappeto song from the olive crushing mill, and a plowing song.

For the instrumental pieces, Giovanni plays his diatonic hand organ with 8 bass notes. The repertory includes the pizzica pizzica (the tarantella of the Salento, once used as a musical and dance therapy for the bite of the tarantula spider), the scotis (from the family of the European Schottish, paired with the polka in figures) the quadrille, walzes, polkas, and mazurkas. In other pieces Giovanni also plays the harmonica and tambourine. His wife Angela, at first timid and shy, proved to be instead a good singer, proof of the diffusion in the former peasant culture of a capacity of expression through powerful singing and according to the canons of execution of the local tradition.

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