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Open Access (free)
Identity, heritage and creative research practice in Basilicata, southern Italy

Sonic ethnography explores the role of sound-making and listening practices in the formation of local identities in the southern Italian region of Basilicata. The book uses a combination of text, photography and sound recording to investigate soundful cultural performances such as tree rituals, carnivals, pilgrimages, events promoting cultural heritage and more informal musical performances. Its approach demonstrates how in the acoustic domain tradition is made and disrupted, power struggles take place and acoustic communities are momentarily brought together in shared temporality and space. This book underlines how an attention to sound-making, recording and listening practices can bring innovative contributions to the ethnography of an area that has been studied by Italian and foreign scholars since the 1950s. The approaches of the classic anthropological scholarship on the region have become one of the forces at play in a complex field where discourses on a traditional past, politics of heritage and transnational diasporic communities interact. The book’s argument is carried forward not just by textual means, but also through the inclusion of six ‘sound-chapters’, that is, compositions of sound recordings themed so as to interact with the topic of the corresponding textual chapter, and through a large number of colour photographs. Two methodological chapters, respectively about doing research in sound and on photo-ethnography, explain the authors’ approach to field research and to the making of the book.

Struggles for power over a festival soundscape
Lorenzo Ferrarini

experience of sounds dedicated to a sacred figure, which are most of the time music – playing an instrument, singing, but also by extension dancing (Scaldaferri 2006 : 16). Sonic devotion has a markedly embodied character and it is performed in ways that can sometimes be quite extreme, as was the case for the cult of the Madonna del Pollino. But it is also made up of the mundane soundscape created around pilgrimage campsites, with their cooking, singing, eating and drinking. As we will see, sonic devotion is also relational, or in other words it is part of very personal

in Sonic ethnography
Open Access (free)
Lorenzo Ferrarini and Nicola Scaldaferri

call an ecological approach, we are interested in the relational and experiential aspects of sound that cut across dichotomies between nature and culture, non-musical sound and music. The term ‘ecological’ as we use it here does not refer to Schafer’s concept of acoustic ecology and its concern for noise pollution and lo-fi soundscapes, but rather to the capacity of sound to enact relationships between species, places and meanings (Feld 1996 ). In order to represent the acoustic environments that we encountered in their most complex form, we expanded our focus in

in Sonic ethnography
Open Access (free)
Recorded memories and diasporic identity in the archive of Giuseppe Chiaffitella
Nicola Scaldaferri

on sound events from the local soundscape, if they had a specific evocative value. This was the case with the festive church bells, a soundmark whose importance had already been acknowledged by Schafer: The most salient sound signal in the Christian community is the church bell. In a very real sense it defines the community, for the parish is an acoustic space, circumscribed by the range of the church bell. The church bell is a centripetal sound; it attracts and unifies the community in a social sense, just as it draws man and God together. ( 1977 : 54

in Sonic ethnography
Open Access (free)
Music-making as creative intervention
Nicola Scaldaferri

capable of dominating the soundscape, and its frequent use in festivals, pilgrimages and other moments of socialisation make it particularly suited to creating a sense of sonic community, understood in a sense similar to that suggested by Schafer ( 1977 : 214). It can bring people together and control the movements of dancers but also of other musicians, who have to adapt to its key and to its volume (see chapter 3 ). Some zampogna players love playing while walking, in open spaces or through the streets of a village, interacting with the place, testing the resonance

in Sonic ethnography
Open Access (free)
Towards a sonic ethnography of the Maggio festival in Accettura
Lorenzo Ferrarini and Nicola Scaldaferri

of place (Feld and Basso 1996 ; Gell 1995 ), technologies and ideologies of mediation (Katz 2004 ; Sterne 2003 ) and histories of class and power (Fox 2004 ; Ochoa Gautier 2006 ). Sound is here treated not so much as a natural-cultural given, as in the classic notion of soundscape, but as the emerging aural outcome of acts of listening that are embodied, mediated and inscribed in historical and ideological contexts. The second aspect of this methodology concerns the different positionalities of the listeners. This entails doing research in and through

in Sonic ethnography
Listening to the Campanaccio of San Mauro Forte
Nicola Scaldaferri

always been a central focus of discussion. The case of San Mauro, where both these elements are absent, suggests that sound might take up a masking function, both at an individual and collective level. The sound of each cowbell becomes a soundmask for its carrier, who identifies completely with the sound. At the same time, each carrier’s presence in space and their relationships with others are manifested in the soundscape. Soundmask is understood as the temporary taking up of a sonic identity, a disguise that is perceived aurally, superseding the visual one for both

in Sonic ethnography
Notes on developing a photo-ethnographic practice in Basilicata
Lorenzo Ferrarini

. Transport of the cima during the Maggio festival. Image 7.5 , for example, is a photograph that I had initially excluded from my selection of shots from Accettura, due to its lack of clarity and poor composition. It was shot in the rush of the transport of the tree, walking backwards and shortly before I slipped on the mud. However, after listening to Feld’s soundscape composition I decided to include it among the sixteen images that were printed in When the Trees Resound (Scaldaferri and Feld 2019 ), because its blur felt like a visual analogy for the

in Sonic ethnography