|1. A more condensed version of the present
paper was delivered at the fifth meeting of the ICTM
Study Group on the Anthropology of Music in Mediterranean
Cultures hosted by the Levi Foundation in Venice in June
2001. The meeting had as its theme Trends and
Processes in Todays Mediterranean Music.
2. The present paper does not attempt to offer a survey of the full gamut of musical activity in Corsica during the period under consideration. Interesting directions have also been taken by a number of key individuals, including Jean-Paul Poletti, Mighele Raffaelli, andToni and Nicole Casalonga, Nando Acquaviva and others of the associof key individuals, including Jean-Paul Poletti, Mighele Raffaelli, and Toni and Nicole Casalonga, Nando Acquaviva and others of the association E Voce di U Cumune. Whilst reference is made in the course of my discussion to aspects of their work, a detailed consideration of their initiatives unfortunately lies beyond the scope of the present study. For a fuller exploration of these and other dimensions of the Corsican story I must direct the reader to other publications, both past and yet to come.
3. A healthy demand for deleted titles has also prompted the re-release of a number of classic recordings. Only a small proportion of the discs on sale in Corsica itself, however, find their way onto the shelves of record stores outside the island, although many can now be located via the internet. Details of the various groups and their recordings can be found at http:/www.corsica-isula.com/music.htm, which also has links to many of the groups own sites which usually carry downloadable sound files, concert tour details etc. Other useful starting places are http:/www.musicorsa.fr.st/ and http:/www.corsemusique.com.
4. Sermanu and Rusiu, two small neighbouring villages in the Castagniccia region, are widely revered as representing one of the last strongholds of traditional Corsican musical practices. In particular, the villages are noted for their distinctive polyphonic settings of the mass and other liturgical and paraliturgical texts which have been preserved without a break in the oral tradition and are still sung regularly by untrained village singers.
5. Genres still current in the grassroots oral tradition include the polyphonic paghjella (examples of which are also found in the repertoire of all of the groups mentioned in this paper), the chjamí e rispondi(a sung improvised debate which has similarities with the Sardinian gara poetica and the Maltese spirtu pront), and localized polyphonic settings of the Latin mass and other liturgical and paraliturgical material (examples of which can again be found in the repertoire of many of the groups discussed). Examples of the full range of traditional genres (taken in this case from Wolfgang Laades field recordings of 1958 and 1973) can be found on the disc Corsica: Traditional Songs and Music (see discography).
6. The marriage of tradition and modernity continues to be a central theme in the press reports describing appearances by the various groups which feature almost daily in the newspaper Corse-Matin. An item which appeared on 8.8.01, for example, carried the title Musivoce: entre tradition et modernitè, a formula which reappeared in the 15.8.01 issue as Di Maghju: entre tradition et modernitè.
7. The chanson style of the 1970s developed largely as a vehicle for new songs by Canta and other groups who aligned themselves to a greater or lesser extent with the nationalist and autonomist movements, composed in response to current political developments and events in the struggle. These songs came to be defined as cantu indiatu, indiatu being equivalent to the French engagé.
8. The Pigna based association E Voce di u Cumune again features prominently in investigations into traditional instruments. In 1981 the association published the book Etats des Recherches sur les Instruments Traditionnels en Corse. A number of craftspeople based in the village produce a range of instruments which students can then learn to play at the weekly workshops held at the Casa Musicale. Workshops are also held at the university town of Corte in connection with the Phonothèque of the Musée de la Corse (under the direction of Bernardu Pazzoni). Mighele Raffaelli (based in Bastia) is an accomplished performer on the cetera: he can be heard using this and other instruments to accompany the singing of Mighela Cesari on the disc U Cantu Prufondu (amongst others).
9. Each of the pieces discussed here includes both vocal and instrumental lines. As noted above, the 1990s also saw a significant output of a cappella polyphonic pieces, with particularly interesting work by Mighele Raffaelli, Nando Acquaviva and the groups A Filetta, Voce di Corsica and Tavagna. This démarche in itself offers sufficient interest to form the basis of an entirely new article.
10. One of the original members of Canta, Poletti has played a prominent and very public role in musical developments in Corsica over the past thirty years. In addition to his career as an accomplished singer, he is also a serious composer. Through the sum of his musical activity he might be seen to bridge the gap between the popular and the classical, the classical tendency also informing his work with his choir Granitu Maggiore and his Centre dArt Polyphonique, both of which have grown out of his scola di cantu at Sartène. (He also directs a separate male voice choir, with whom he has recently toured as far afield as Hong-Kong, Iran and Mexico.)
11. I have, nonetheless, encountered on more than one occasion groups of young singers who had listened assiduously to recordings of new arrangements and compositions by groups such as A Filetta and were able to reproduce the songs impeccably. Others have learnt the material through attending one or other of the singing schools which are run by members of the different groups.
12. The concept of nouvelles polyphonies or new polyphonies is in itself suggestive of new aesthetic.