About this project
Hello and welcome to our Kickstarter page!
Who are we?
We are the Tenores de Aterúe, a vocal quartet that specializes in the traditional polyphonic music of Sardinia (an island to the west of Rome), called cantu a tenore. None of us are Sardinians by birth, but we each became captivated by this unique style of singing and began studying it in earnest about 5 years ago, by way of a YouTube video (made by the famous ensemble Tenores di Bitti) that broke down the basic architecture of this music. Once this first piece of the puzzle was there we were able to slowly learn from any recording we could get our hands on. Little by little our repertoire increased.
After we posted a video from our first concert in 2011 (on the very same forum of global exchange – the ubiquitous YouTube) there was a rapid and overwhelmingly positive response from Sardinians. Apparently we were (and still are) the only non-Sardinian group in the world learning this intricate music. We received encouragement, tips, appreciation, and generous offers from people inviting us to Sardinia. We also made strong connections with the diaspora communities in Montreal and New York City, further helping us in this journey. And now, we are making our first visit to this incredible island in mid-May to further our studies, fully immerse ourselves in the culture of Sardinia, and document the experience through film and audio. With your generous support we can finally realize our vision!
What is cantu a tenore?
Designated a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005, cantu a tenore singing consists of four voice parts: boche (voice), mesu boche (half voice), contra (counter), and bassu (bass). Two of these voice parts (bassu and contra) use throat-singing techniques that create a rich and rhythmic aural texture accentuated by the high ornamentation in the mesu boche. On top of this “canvas”, the bard-like part of the boche sings poetry with exceptional tonal and rhythmic nuance and is often the only part that uses text. This style of music is one of the rare examples of polyphonic throat-singing traditions in the world. Cantu a tenore is very much a living tradition - the song texts not only reflect an ancient way of life, but also the realities and pressures affecting Sardinians today, particularly in rural areas where this music originates.
What are our goals for this project?
This is where you come in! By going to Sardinia we hope to further our studies of cantu a tenore and document our first meeting with masters of this music. We are bringing a videographer along with us to create a short documentary film about the whole trip, as well as several video vignettes to capture different aspects of this project in more detail. We will also create field recordings to compile into an audio narrative of the experience. It is our goal to share these films, sound recordings, and what we learn with interested musicians and non-musicians alike, as there are few learning resources available at the present.
Our broader hope is that this cultural exchange will bring greater appreciation for the cantu a tenore tradition both here in the U.S. and in Sardinia, where evidently the tradition has been often misunderstood and neglected.
Why do we do what we do, you might ask? We came to cantu a tenore by way of years of individual and collective study of various traditional polyphonic singing styles such as Corsican, Georgian, and early American music. There are of course immense differences between these traditions, but there is an ethos that permeates all of them. Each tradition speaks to a world quickly fading from our consciousness, and it is the wisdom, ingenuity, and singular uniqueness of these traditions that have attracted us. These musical forms have distinct characteristics - ornamentation, tuning, vocal production, rhythm, etc. The songs communicate the particular stories and histories of the communities and cultures that have produced them. But these musical traditions also share values that extend beyond music, such as supporting community, affirming life, building intimacy between singers, and practices of inclusivity. There is always so much more to say on this subject, so feel free to contact us to keep the conversation going.
We have already raised several thousand dollars from concerts over the past year, and are looking to raise another $5000 that will critically support our travel and accommodation costs, the fees we intend to pay Sardinian musicians, and videographer travel and editing costs. We are immensely excited and grateful for any and all support of this project. Thank you!
Risks and challenges
We recognize that there might be some bumps along the road and that nothing goes entirely as planned. This being our first trip to Sardinia, this may be especially the case. We may experience times where our planned connections with various singers are interrupted or simply do not happen. We may also have difficulties communicating and traversing around the island. However, we all have considerable experience traveling in places and circumstances akin to our planned Sardinian adventure. We also have a lot of support from well-connected musicians and cultural advocates in Sardinia who have been involved with the planning of the trip and have our best interests in mind. This fact will be hugely important to the success of this project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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