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The art of Trallallero
Enclosed by a mountain from the North, opening out on to the gulf to the South, with its rainbow-colored houses overlapping in a cacophony of styles, its enterlacing “carugi” (winding alleys cloaked in almost perpetual shadow) the city of Genoa (Zena) forms a surprising amphitheatre developed around the port, the base of its power the roots of which go back to the XI-XV centuries, through trade with the Far East and the control over Liguria and Corsica.
The art of trallallero (an onomatopeic term derived from “tra-la-la”) is wed to this history. A song of entertainment, originally rural, became that of the workmen unloading ships or employed in the metallurgy of the shipyards.
In the 20’s and 30’s, Genoa boasted over a hundred groups (from the baker’s band to the male nurse’s bands), regularly competing with the support of their respective districts.
From one generation to the next, this vocal style has been encoded. It is now organised around a tenor («u primmu» in Genoese dialect), a falsetto («u segundu» or «cuntretu»), a guitar (an imitation of the instrument in a nasal voice, obtained by placing the back of the hand over the lips), a baritone («u cuntrubassu») and several bass voices. The tenor generally starts off singing in the right tone («un sciu tun»), the guitar sets the rhythm and the basses provide a harmonic back-up to the group. Height “canterini” are the “golden number” of the ensemble in which each singer must be an individual entity within the vocal cluster physically created around an immaginary centre (the groups sing in circle).
The repertoire is comprised of less than a hundred pieces. These are short, and for the most part, anonymous.
The trallallero has a bit of refreshing naivety in one case, an erotic metaphore or the satire of a local personality in the other.
A song rich in melisma (influence of the Far East), pungently smelling of salt and sweet basil, full of precision, synchrony, authenticity.
For all that, a historical and technical definition of the trallallero is not likely to exhaust its mistery. For there is a trallallero dream, pursuing whimsical æsthetics, searching for that spinning of the head which comes from the alchemia of voices woven together. The formulas of this amalgamation are debated on ad infinitum by the singers and their fans.
A few years ago, the genre was seriously endangered. The come-back of the quest for “identity” having brought in new blood, it has now regained its colours. “La Squadra”, which is one of the most experienced bands of traditional singing from Liguria, is a living testimony of the trallallero. For years they have taken part in the most important folk and ethnic european festivals and they are linked to the french label “Buda Musique”.
The organisation and the spirit of “La Squadra” give to their performances different tones, allowing precise harmonic groupings in order to obtain an execution based on the tone, the rhythm, the sound. These are three keys offered to the listener for entering into the mysterious world of trallallero.
For the first time, with the present members, the work is carried out to make this type of poliphony popular among the international public.
With this in mind, La Squadra have been building a vocal ensemble through a severe selection of the singers, over the last few years, reaching a perfect equilibrium between tradition and willingness of renewal.
Other than Italy, La Squadra have taken part in the most significant festivals in France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia, and they have recorded live sessions for Radio France in Paris, for Raitre in the Studios of Turin and at the Quirinale in Rome, up to their most recent concert with Bocelli and Alexia at the new Auditorium in Rome, during the opening day of the Semestre Italiano Europeo.
PRINTEMPS ITALIEN – CHAMBERY
SAISON DU THEATRE DE - SAINT QUINTIN
SAISON DE - CHARLEROI
VILLE NOUVELLE COULTURE – RHONE DES ALPES
SAISON DE THEATRE DE - NIMES
ETETRADE – AOSTA
SAISON MUSICALE DE LA - LOIRE
VIAGGIO IN ITALIA – AUDITORIUM ROMA
CONCERTO AL QUIRINALE – CAPPELLA PAOLINA ROMA
FèTES CHORALES DE - BRIVE
LES CONCERTES DE RADIO FRANCE – PARIGI
SAISON DE L’ISTITUTE CULTURELLE DE ARABIA - PARIGI
AUTRES RIVAGES – FESTIVAL EN PAYS D’UzèS
MUSIQUES EN MOUVEMENT
TANZA E FOLKFEST – SALFELD
ECLATS DE VOIX – AUCH
PALAZZO DUCALE – GENOVA
FEST DER KONTINENTE – BERLINO
FESTIVAL DE - SAINT CHARTIER
SAISON CULTURELLE DE - MONACO
PRINTEMPS DES ARTS – MONACO
ETNOPOLIS – CAPODISTRIA
TOSCANA DELLE CULTURE – ABBADIA SAN SALVADORE
LES TEMPS CHAUD – BOURG EN BRESSE
VOUCALIA – NIZZA
FèTE DES CANT MARIN – BRETANIA
SAISON D’AIX – AIX EN PROVENCE
VENUS DìAILLEURS – MARTIGUES
FESTIVAL DI CALVI’ - CORSICA
1) LA SQUADRA – POLYPHONIE GèNOISE
2) LA SQUADRA – CHANSONS GèNOISES
3) BLUE DE ZENA
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