« a magnificent voice,
strange and deep… »
Claude Rivière, in La Provence

See previous stages :
2009 - 2008 - 2007
- Cetera - Pifana - Culombu

The Singing
My sources are sacred chants as well as singing from the mountain (« Cantu Sacru » & « Cantu Nustrale ») and, upstream to sources, sounds, calls, silences, stations,the contemplations and ponderings, the animals, the way man carries his voice away in the mountains id estformer shepherds voicing.It is hardly the years 50-60’s singing "mare è sole" (« sea & sun ») which guides me. Rather the "Cantu Muntagnolu".The invocation of the raw nature in all her majesty and the religious interiority of the man in the heart of the Creation mystery. A search for the archaic and for the sacred through the monodic deep singing and the compositions which do not tend to be faithful to the Tradition in its shape, but in its source, in its energy, its primitive mystery and its magic and incantatory power.The "religere" of the man to the men and to the nature.
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The instrument - the 16 strings Corsican cithern - used to be very popular until the middle of the XIXth century. It used to be played as accompaniment to singing & violin during the evenings. Essentially of oral tradition, it had almost disappeared from the Corsican collective memory when, in the 1970s, the consciousness of a cultural specificity rose up and gave birth to the "Reaquistu" (recovering).
As far as we know today, the last man who played cetera was a smith. He died in 1934: Luiggi Succi. With him did die the Tradition. Today, there are only very few elder instruments of period.
The Cetera I’m playing is known as "Oletta Cetera". She is 200 years old and is the only one of period at present played (the other cetera of period in state of being played is visible at Corte Museum of Arts and Popular Tradition). She comes to me from my Great Uncle François Agostini who did not play it but who always appointed her to me respectfully when I was visiting him as a child. She was hung on the wall in the ancestral house of Oletta where I’m living now, and he said to me that nobody knew how to play it anymore. That stringing, tuning, technique and repertoire had been lost, but that it was very important that I should take care of her. He bequeathed her to me when he went out. I then took the instrument and began little by little to search and compose with her. She had not played for 100 years.
On the neck, the finger track of the Ancient spoke to me about notes for ever flown away and tunes of past over dances. Suspended melodies and voices disappeared around the hearth of the last evening. ‘Cause there had been a last evening. Long after the last echo had fainted, I let myself guided forward by the instrument’s unknown voice, and what she had to say after such a long silence. Like the blind guided by the dumb.
Freely discovering this unexpected country of a fancied memory on the one hand, but on the other hand, getting informed on various musicologists’research works, and on the techniques of akin instruments.

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It is the ancient flute of the Corsican shepherds, made out of a horn of goat.


Big shell drilled in which we blow with strength to ring it in the mountain. Used until the middle of the XXth century to communicate, call the herds give the alert during an invasion and gather the population.

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« History of Cetera and of Cithern »
« The first person who discovered Cetera was the musician François Agostini* in his village of Corsica, Oletta. Instrument that he recovered in ruin, and made restore, then exhibited among his personal collection, in his house. »

*François Agostini, named above, was my Great Uncle.
He left me this very instrument, and I’m playing it now.