The voice springs from the heart of the people
and – just as water – no one can truly contain it.
In the Sardinian traditional singing of Logudoro, the guitar has a delicate role: it is an original phenomenon in the island’s ethnophonical heritage. It is only getting the whole picture, that one can look into the countless facetes of this complex subject and discover its uniqueness and fascination. In this journey among historical analysis, narration, and song, two experts with their own life trajectories show the different styles, modules, musical forms, voices, and chords which characterize Sa limba de su RE
What does it mean sa limba de su re?
We begin with saying that in Sardinian (as well as in Italian) the word Re indicates both “D” (musical note) and “King”. Sa Limba de su Re, therefore, literally means the language of the D/King. Music and language are two important areas of interest in our journey of research, and in the documentary Sa Limba de su Re we focused on a few detailed aspects of music in Sardinia, and how they relate to language.
The “canto in Re” (song in D) is one of the most fascinating phenomena in Mediterranean music, and here we come to the heart of the theme: the Sardinian traditional singing of Logudoro (Logudoro is a vast territory of central-northern Sardinia, Ed.) As one of our documentary voices, the guitar virtuoso Tore Matzau says: “the song in D is the King of songs”.
Here, one of the protagonists has been revealed; the other expert who accompanies us on the path through narration and song is Professor Andrea Deplano (author of such fundamental works as “Tenores – song and social communication in Sardinia”, “Rimas – Sounds Verses Structures in Sardinian Traditional Poetry”, “Ballos”), a researcher who, from an early age, grew up totally experiencing the dynamics of Sardinian poetry and music.
What is the relationship between sardinian and italian languages?
We probably need a serious bunch of degree thesis in linguistics to answer this question. We’re lovers, and searching for the roots that blend the contemporary with the old, it happened that some detailed reconstructions intrigued us, for example we can mention the work of a Sardinian linguist, Salvatore Dedola. He argues that both Sardinian and Italian – as well as French, Spanish, Latin and so on – are expressions of the evolution of a common proto-language. These themes and intuitions were already present, for example, in Giovanni Semerano’s studies, but Dedola has gone further, even going so far as rewriting the famous M. L. Wagner’s Sardinian etimological dictionary. Dedola has also published about fifteen thematic books on different linguistics topics, from a grammar of Sardinian, to his works on specific matters as religion, toponymies and so on. The Sardinian language has kept many ancient linguistic forms, so it seems to be a really stimulating field of investigation which deserves to be explored more and more deeply.
And what about the connections between sardinian language and sardinian traditional music?
This brings us back to the protagonists of our documentary, because Andrea Deplano lives trying to give an indication on this topic and, we quote him “The Sardinian language expresses music in itself, so the language, naturalis naturaliter, leads to music. Any language is connatural with music, but Sardinian is a stronger case”.
The documentary explores such theme through different perspectives, several of which Deplano thoroughly analyzes in his books. It is about trying to go beyond a vague impression of musicality of a language against other languages… it deals with an in-depth investigation, we think it can make a substantial contribution in different fields of research.
Because of its peculiarities, it seems like Sardinian overcomes certain inherent barriers typical of languages, it is the language that exceeds itself, where “the universal and the particular substantiate each other in order to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers, showing that music speaks one language” (Deplano).
Now, we would like so much to talk about phoné and Carmelo Bene, but we stop here, for now..
Who are you? How did you get into this kind of cinema? Which are the origins of this choice?
We could say that what we do together is to observe and investigate microcosms. We started on the wave of gnōthi seautón – know thyself, an essential point for us. There has been a great yearning for sharing certain findings and interrogatives in our journey, and a deep need to overcome the barriers of language, which in time have been enhanced in our works through various means of expressions: photography, installation art, performance art and, here we are, the creation of documentaries. We both share a passion for cinema, we have been loving cinema since we were kids… and at one point we went from watching the films we like to making the films we like, trying to keeping ourselves from walking into the numerous traps of the film languages… we try to go beyond the representation, basically.
We were talking about microcosms… it is an exploration leading continually from the particular to the universal. And just to explore ourselves, with our own multiplicity, we got on prefer a multi- and intra-disciplinary approach.
We enjoy listening to diverse voices which are (sometimes apparently) contradicting each other, and offering them as a whole – it is not about aiming to completeness, but it may render an idea of the variety of visions and also keep important memories which would otherwise be lost forever.
In the act of recording, there is something which is especially dear to us: we do our best to preserve the spontaneity of the protagonists as well as our own.
The surprise, the dis-orientation of someone who is talking or playing or singing, forgetting about the presence of a camera, and… simultaneously finding ourselves surprised, too, is the greatest thing that can happen.
We have dedicated much of our documentaries to the cultural richness which characterizes the island where we were born, Sardinia; we recorded and shared many different testimonies, on the principle of complementariness.
We are lucky enough to get to know people who keep enormous treasures, expressed at their best through art; Tore Matzau’s guitar is pure Beauty in music, and Deplano’s words are Poetry, further the language itself.
This goes back to the matter of the language which overtakes itself, to phoné, and the impossibility of “ (…) making cinema with the cinema, music with the music, literature with the literature (…)” (cit. C.B.).
In your documentary what emerges is that today the traditional “Music of the D/king” is still alive and it seems to be truly appreciated. How has it been handed down from generation to generation and how is taught? On what occasions is it played?
Yes it is true… the tradition is still alive but just fifty years ago this genre had a wider audience. The reasons behind this phenomena are argued and explained by Matzau and Deplano in the documentary, it is a far more complex issue than it seems. Today we find on the stage Pino Masala, born in 1962, with Gian Daniele Calbini, born in 1997: we can say it is like a little miracle.
About the occasions, how is this kind of music taught and handed down, we must refer to the full documentary, too, but we would like to reveal a gem, Matzau says: “(…) I regularly went to Sassari’s bettole (taverns)… for me it has been… I consider it my university, my Conservatoire”.
A Sassari’s bettola is not some standard tavern or wine bar one can imagine… this topic really deserves its own in-depth focus; the full documentary, again, also speaks about it (mainly referred to the musical aspect), but… we must confess that we wish so much to dedicate a special documentary to Sassari’s bettole!
It is clear that you are really passionate about the topics you choose but how do you manage to produce your films? How do you raise the funds needed to make your films?
Initially our projects were all self-produced. Then there were also commissioned works but, apart from these cases, it is not easy accessing to the sources of finance, when it comes to our own projects. We can see that, most often, it is necessary to raise from different kind of sources. For several years now, many directors (or artists, in general), not only the emerging or independent ones, are collecting funds through different popular platforms, like Kickstarter, Patreon, in order to realize their projects. But the best example, in our view, it is represented by what Nanni Moretti created with Sacher Film and Cinema Nuovo Sacher. He really realized something special.
How do you reach the public? Do you organize some articulated event, with books, videos, lectures, etc.? Is there a specific circuit devoted to it?
This, too, depends on the kind of work involved, there is no specific circuit devoted to such needs – or, if it does exists, we have not discovered it yet, if you know some, let us know..! – When it came to self-produced projects, or a mix of external and own sources, we have presented our works through meetings, lectures, screenings of special features and so on. Actually, due to the multi-disciplinarity and the specific subjects of our works, it is natural to choose this kind of events. For instance, the talks, the lectures offer the opportunity to the audience, where possible, to get to know the protagonists of the documentaries, and to look into certain facets which have not been fully analyzed or debated in the film for synthesis reasons… At the same time, we are there to share a bit of the other side of the camera, the genesis, our sensations.