The "canto a tenore" today represents vivid testimony of the archaic roots of the Sardinian culture. The origin of this form of "canto", belongs to the nuraghical period and was a devise used by the pastoral community to describe and communicate its social characteristics and consciousness, which survived in spite of the passing of time.
This "coro" form of chanting requires a group of four male voices, referred to as "Oche", "Bassu ","Contra", and "Mesu Oche". The voice referred to a "Oche " is the one who carries the "canto", taking charge of the verbal singing (usually citing love lyrics with an Arcadian style or elements improvised based on his personal experiences). The timber is tenor or baritone for the "Oche"; guttural and in the throat (ingolato) for the "Bassu" (base), the "Contra", is a hollow and blurry voice (sfocato); and the "Mesu Oche", is the falsetto.
The group "Tenores di Bitti" (Nuoro) "Remunnu 'e Locu" started in 1974. The group is currently composed by Daniele Cossellu, leader of the group and "Oche" and "Mesu oche" (vocal soloist and mezza voce); Mario Pira, "Bassu" (bass guttural); Pier Luigi Giorno, "Contra" (controvoce guttural); and Dino Ruiu, "Oche" e "Mesu Oche" (vocal soloist e mezza voce).
The "Tenores di Bitti" come from a village called Bitti (located in Nuoro, which is the main city in the center of Sardinia). Generally, they don't use written texts for their lyrics - as this is a very common feature in the pastoral culture - handing down lyrics from father to son. The Tenores' chants are normally based on this use of improvised lyrics dealing with common themes taken from everyday experiences such as, rural life, love, social issues, religion and satirical poetry. Additionally, their repertoire includes chants based on classical poems written by famous Sardinian authors.
During the performance the singers face each other in a circle. They alternate moments in which they dance, holding each other tightly by the arms, spinning around following a specific sequence of steps and skips, in order to announce the strength of their singing and to express the social coherence they feel within. One of the deep experiences of the Tenores' chants, is the possibility to feel a strong magnetism and energy that embodies the radiant and extraordinary land of Sardinia.
The group performed numerous concerts in Italy, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, Denmark, England, Hungary, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Cuba, Argentina, United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, etc.
The group also performed next to some of great American jazz artists like Lester Bowie and Ornette Coleman. Frank Zappa defined the tenores chants music as "bovine music". Peter Gabriel, published some of the group's work under his own prestigious label "Real World".