Lungje, po’!: the new book published by Folkest

Waiting for the 42nd edition of Folkest, which will take place from September 17 to October 5 2020, and to be able to listen online to the recordings of the concerts to be held in July between Koper and 27 municipalities of Friuli Venezia Giulia – online from August – Folkest comes out with the publication of the book “Lungje po'” (p.258 and CD, ed. Folkest, 2019, 20€, language Italian). A unique opportunity to learn more about traditional Friulian music and neighbouring influences.

In fact, a single volume contains the in-depth field research of Andrea Del Favero, artistic director of the Folkest festival, researcher, journalist and musician, on the traditional music of Friuli, a land of coexistence of encounters and clashes between stories, cultures and languages, a territory at the crossroads of different worlds, such as Latin, Slavic and German. Lungje po’! is a detailed and fascinating overview of the history of ancient instruments, performance practices now lost together with a series of musical examples from historical documents and field recordings, transcribed on a pentagram by Dario Marusic and a compact disc with a significant series of original music by Friulian folk orchestras. What, in fact, has remained alive for the longest time of the long ritual tradition of dance, after the disappearance and transformation of folk rituals, are the orchestras, mostly formed until recently, by old players.

The title of the full-bodied volume Lungje, Po’! refers to the shout that the dancers launched at the address of the players to encourage them to continue playing: it was chosen to symbolize the wish for the present and the future of popular music in the north-eastern region and beyond.

The author reminds us how in the period of time that coincides broadly, between the appearance on the stage of Martin Luther’s story and the outbreak of the French Revolution, there has been a great transformation of popular culture in Europe, and therefore also in Friuli. In Friuli, a land rich in legends about witches and especially about shamans (just think of the phenomenon – tradition of the Benandanti, but also of certain aspects of carnival rites), where there is an unusual survival of the ancient rites, which continued well beyond the Council of Trent (1545 -1563). The volume then presents an analysis of the transformations of the economic and social order that led to the eighteenth century, always in an overall picture that takes due account of continental historical events. From here the chapters narrate the repercussions of industrialization on the Friulian territory, the migratory phenomena and the development of new musical practices at the same time as the urban revival of popular culture or the emergence of the villa as a typical local expression, the birth of music bands, the introduction of new codes with the emergence of musical notation and writing where each player was provided with a precise part, well written and not modifiable or variable. Finally, the last part of the century is extremely dynamic and complex. The social transformation taking place in this period was very strong: on the one hand, emigration, this time to even more distant lands in Europe and the world (first of all Argentina) radically changed the horizons of popular feeling; on the other hand, a part of the population began to leave the Alpine valleys and the countryside to settle in the cities, where the emerging industrial forms and trade offered more job opportunities. In this period elements of different ethnic origins came into direct contact: in Gorizia and Udine, those from Friuli and Slovenia, in Western Friuli, those from Friuli and Veneto.

In the course of the research it emerges that, apart from some archaic dances still partially in use in some restricted areas, most of the repertoire considered and practiced by older players as old traditional music, was formed by the Polke, the Waltz, the Stajare, with some rarer Mazurka, Manfrina or Scottish, not to mention the relatively more recent infiltrators, such as the Raspa, the Spirù and the One Step, the object of a real fashion in the period between the two world wars.
It continues until the time of that dramatic watershed that was the earthquake of 1976, to enter, finally, in the contemporary Folk revival and musical re-proposal, with the many names that indicate the liveliness of an area that Friulian, often wrongly considered peripheral: from Canzonieri to La Sedon Salvadie, from the Carnic author Lino Straulino to Loris Vescovo, Franco Giordani and Elsa Martin, just to mention three authors who have received feedback at national level.

The volume continues with a presentation and analysis of the various families of instruments present in the popular tradition of the area: from accordion to violin, accompanied by guitar and liròn (or double bass) with the occasional presence of mandolin and clarinet. The other form of instrumentation present, mainly in the Incarojo Canal (as a continuation of the tradition, and in the Slovenian cultural areas, as a loan from the Austro-Slovenian Oberkrajner), is the Alpine Bandella, composed of wind instruments and accordion.

The author concludes by proposing some reflections by Hermann Bausinger – German researcher and scholar emblematic of Folk expressions – on the relationship between tradition and modernization and the definitive transformation of rural civilization. In fact, one can use the term transformation because in the reality of the facts of history, one can see how popular culture has always been transformed, adapted to the point of seeming to have disappeared in some periods, only to suddenly re-emerge instead. Ultimately, concludes the author, it is a culture that never seems to die, and Lungje po’! helps us understand why.