Sardinian cantu a tenore is a form of polyphonic singing performed by a group of four singers using four different voices: bassu, contra, boghe and mesu boghe. The deep, guttural timbre of the bassu and contra voices produce ringing overtones, which are expanded by the mesu boghe. This rich aural texture is essentially a canvas for the boghe, who is the main soloist and sings almost all of the text. The song form is typical of the region of Barbagia and other parts of central Sardinia. Performances are often spontaneous and done in local bars, but also at more formal occasions, such as religious festivals. The lyrics are sometimes ancient, but may also be contemporary poems on present-day issues such as emigration and politics, and they are connected to the island's rich poetic tradition.
The songs on this album reflect our journey as a quartet. In many ways, that journey has been like an incredible feast. It started with the "appetizers": our experience of listening to CDs and YouTube videos of cantu a tenore. After posting our first YouTube video showing what we'd learned, we were contacted by Sardinians who seemed as excited about our group as we were about their music. “Try this! Listen to the incredible boghe on this song! Here are lyrics for this gem,” said the emails and Facebook messages. In 2013 we traveled to Sardinia for the first time, feasting in good company. We were overwhelmed by an epic muttos jam session with over twenty singers in the town of Nuoro. We wept at the beauty of the astonishing boghe ‘e notte songs sung by our hosts in Orune, Fonni, and Silanus. We danced in piazzas with grandmothers, teenagers, and middle-aged men. It was a life changing experience for us all.
Our hearts and spirits are filled with the memory of those exciting nights (and sleepy days between) that plunged us deep into the living world of cantu a tenore. We look forward to our next visit, at which time we hope also to visit Sardinia's stark and majestic neighbor, Corsica, whose music and traditions have similarly enchanted us. We've included two Corsican liturgical songs on this album, with more to come! And now, we invite you to join us at the table.
released December 20, 2016
Recorded at The Old Meeting House
in East Montpelier, VT.
Engineered, Mixed, and Mastered
by Devin Greenwood at the Honey Jar
Audio Editing by Gideon Crevoshay
Cover Painting - Doug Paisley
Design & Layout - Gideon Crevoshay & Carl Linich
Photo - In traditional Sardinian costumes at the Festival of the Annunciation in Sardinia, 2013, by Omar Bandinu
Tenores de Aterúe (Avery Book, bassu; Gideon Crevoshay, mesu boghe; Carl Linich, contra; and Doug Paisley, boghe) formed in 2008 to study and perform traditional songs from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.