Camilla Ferrari and the A Tergo Lupi band

A Tergo Lupi is an Italian musical project that aims to integrate instruments of ancient origin with contemporary instruments.  According to their profile,

“A Tergo Lupi is about ancient dark sounds, tagelharpa, bouzouki and ritual drums, and is about guitars, electronics, industrial distortions.”

The band was formed in 2018 with three members: Camilla Ferrari on tagelharpa, vocals, and lute; Luca Villa on Irish bouzouki, throat singing, and flutes; and Fabio Del Carro on lead vocals, percussion, lyre, bass, and guitar.

The group started out as a demonstration group for Ebanisteria Musicale, a family business for handmade musical instruments now run by Ferrari, but quickly evolved into an independent music project. Their music is distributed through Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes, and also through Ferrari’s website.

The phrase a tergo lupi comes from the Latin expression “A fronte praecipitium, a tergo lupi.” or “A precipice in front, wolves behind”.

Fans compare the group to Scandinavian folk metal bands like Heilung, Faun, Skald, Danheim, Wardruna, and Omnia.

I first discovered this group looking for historical instruments, specifically an  example of tagelharpa music –  and believe me, there is some really awful tagelharpa music out there.  Camilla Ferrari seems to be one of the few decent tagelharpa players on the internet.

So what should you listen to?  Their new album “Out of the Fence” is now on YouTube.

Camilla M. Ferrari

Camilla Ferrari is an artisan, luthier, and cabinet maker.  She runs the family artisan workshop Ebanisteria Musicale, specializing in hand-made musical instruments, and electrification of craft, ethnic, or historical instruments. 

The historical instruments built by the shop include hammered dulcimerNorwegian Kravik lyre (Kraviklyra), Anglo-Saxon lyre, tagelharpa, monochord and scheitholt, and the percussion instruments Peruvian cajon and shamonic frame drums.  One typical tagelharp coming from this shop (the one used in the video “Hunted”) is tuned B – B – F# (bass drone).

Ferrari was born in Sassuolo, a small town in northern Italy.  She grew up in a family of artisans and musicians, and studied music and woodworking at an early age, learning to use her great-grandfather’s woodworking tools, and her father’s electronics and audio equipment.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Heritage Sciences from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and a degree in Archeology from the University of Parma.

Ferrari with skull-shaped lyre.

Ferrari was an archivist with Archivio di Stato di Modena (State Archives of Modena), now part of the part of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities.  The nucleus of that collection is from the Este estate and the archives of Duke Cesare that became the property of the state when the duke fled to Modena from Ferrara in 1598.

She is the author of two academic papers about graveyards and corpse mutilation: “Le mutilazioni e lassenza di parti anatomiche dalla sepoltura alcune interpretazioni” (Mutilation and the absence of anatomical parts from burials: some interpretations), and “Sepolture anomale: il problema delle sepolture anomale in Italia tra tardo antico e medioevo” (Abnormal burials: the problem of anomalous burials in Italy between late antiquity and the Middle Ages).

Discography

Albums

  • a tergo lupi - out of the fence - square coverOut of the Fence, 2019.  Full album, YouTube.  Playlist: 1) To the Roots (remastered) 2) Cozu 3) Syringa 4) Break the Breath (Remastered) 5) The March of the Stones 6) The Song of the Moth 7) A Ballad of Life and Death (Kravik Lyre) [YouTube] 8) Two Steel Ravens 9) Cauterize 10) Hunted 11) Lyra 12) The Wood Creaks 13) Deadlyre 14) Rot

Singles and EPs

Projects

Demos

  • The Swedish medieval ballad “Varulven” (the werewolf), played on a Kravik lyre. YouTube.
  • Happy New Year, from A Tergo Lupi to their fans. YouTube.
  • Camilla Ferrari soldering the preamp to a hammered dulcimer.
  • Stringing a scheitholt. YouTube.
  • Tagelharpa cello. YouTube.

External links

A Tergo Lupi

Camilla Ferrari

About historical instruments

The second greatest Brazilian song

The Waters of March  (Portuguese: “Águas de Março”) was voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone as the second greatest Brazilian song.

And what is the first greatest Brazilian song? We may never know, the link has broken. https://rollingstone.uol.com.br/listas/100-maiores-musicas-brasileiras/aguas-de-mar%C3%A7o/

Suzanne Vega & Stacey Kent:

Basia:

Voices of Music: Kate Clark plays Bach

Here is Kate Clark playing the Allemande movement of J.S. Bach’s Partita in A Minor for flute, on the baroque flute.

Kate Clark (red link) is one of the world’s leading performers on the baroque and renaissance flute. 

Clark studied with Anne Smith (red link), who is a specialist in recorder and renaissance flute and author of The Performance of 16th-Century Music: Learning from the Theorists (Oxford University Press, New York, 2011), OCLC Number:802122750.

Voices of Music is a historical performance group that plays on instruments from the time of the composers, using original music and playing techniques. They perform in the San Francisco bay area.  Official website: https://www.voicesofmusic.org/

According to the photograph, they have a ton of women performing with the group.  Not a sausagefest.

The flute is a reproduction of a flute by 18th century flute maker and bassoonist Carlo Palanca (1688/90 -1783) (red link) of Turin. Here is one in the LOC with a corps de rechange to allow the playing at various pitches before the standardization of A=440.

The music is from an undated manuscript marked “Solo p[our une] flûte traversière par J. S. Bach.”, and is regarded as typical of Bach preludes. The partida is a dance-suite, and the movements are marked for the popular dances of the day: Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande and Bourrée angloise.  The music of all four movements can be seen here: the Allemande is the first and longest, and the one seen performed below.  The movement is known for ending on a high note, which some writers have found unsettling or lacking in resolution, perhaps it is at or beyond the traditional range of the instrument.

So, Kate Clark and J.S. Bach.

 

Banned in Dublin: ‘Voicemail for Jill’

Altered cover art as recommended by fans

It’s the forgotten subject, the hidden subject.

And since Amanda Palmer’s song about abortion “Voicemail to Jill” (red link) was  seemingly been banned from Dublin’s The Late Late Show on Friday night, there is no possible way I cannot make a post of it.

Says Amanda Palmer:

“I could write catchy songs about boys and break-ups and have a much easier life. But I chose a different path, and I’ve been making a decent living for nearly two decades singing songs about the darker side of being human.”

And slowly slowly a vocabulary for this has bubbled up from this darker side. We now have words for date rape and date rape drugs, for sexual harassment in the workplace, and even the #metoo hashtag, for the way powerful male creeps collude to protect each other.

Fans objected to the blue of the original cover art

But this was not always so. And even once abortion became legal in the U.S., there was the question of where to get one.  And there was violence, often directed against abortion clinics.  In my community this always erupted during Ash Wednesday, from the Roman Catholic community, spurring numerous letters to the editor in the local paper saying that women should be kept barefoot and pregnant.  What they really objected to was not Roe v Wade, but Griswold v Connecticut. And so the silence was not just about a lack of words, it was also about safety.  As the song says, you cannot tell who has had one by looking around. For a long time, this has been a very secret world.

Palmer has written an essay about how she came to write the song, but maybe this interview is better.

My husband Neil (Gaiman) and I were in Dublin, absolutely coincidentally for the Literary Festival, at the time the abortion referendum took place. It was with synchronicity and luck that I met Roisin Ingle, Una Mullally and other powerhouse feminists. Even though I only knew these women from Twitter, they welcomed me with really open arms. I remember landing that day in Dublin with Neil and not quite understanding the extent of the meaningfulness of what was happening. I was standing right in the middle of Dublin Airport, and looking around at all of these people wearing Repeal shirts. They were waiting to pick up total strangers and take them to the polls and I just burst out crying….

I’ve been trying all my adult life to write a song about abortion that somehow sincerely encapsulated the experience, and it just felt like an impossible task. I’d written a song before about abortion that was dripping with sarcasm, and I wrote another song on my first solo album that wasn’t dripping with sarcasm…

I think it has taken me 25 years, but Roisin and Una, and all of these women in Dublin, pointed the way towards this solution….

… I came home and wrote the song, and then a couple of weeks later, I was in Iceland of all places. I was playing an intimate gig in a totally random venue, with people who only found out about the gig 24 hours before. I showed up there and that’s where I debuted the song, in some weird little bar in Iceland. All I needed was to look out on the faces of the people in Reykjavik to know that this song worked.

…the sharpest weapon we have in our armour right now, as female artists, is just the fucking truth.

…We’ve been living in a system that’s been telling us to be silent, and shut up about our experiences and what they mean for way too long.

 

Pentatonic

[Note: this really belongs on the comments for Le giraffe piano, where I have cross-posted it.]

“Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale.”

This is just amazing, in the first minute he demonstrates how instinctual this is. And the audience reaction shows they get it.

As always, if it won’t display in your area, copy-paste the URL into the browser.
If the guy seems familiar, he did “Don’t worry be happy”. [Official video]
Bonus video, Bobby McFerrin plays the audience, live at the Kennedy Center in New York.

Le giraffe piano

Si nous ne connaissons plus aujourd’hui que deux formes principales de pianos (droits ou « à queue »), il n’en a pas été de même dans les 150 ans qui ont suivi l’invention de Cristofori.  Les premiers pianos sont construits par des facteurs de clavecin qui produisent traditionnellement clavecins, épinettes, clavicitériums et clavicordes. Il semble donc normal que dans les premières années de développement du nouvel instrument, les facteurs aient tenté d’inclure la mécanique de Cristofori dans toutes sortes de formes d’instruments à clavier : le piano « à queue » hérite donc de la forme habituelle des clavecins, les clavicitériums donnant naissance aux « pianos girafes ». Seules les épinettes « en aile d’oiseau » ne trouveront pas leur avatar dans cette nouvelle famille d’instruments.  [source]

upright harpsichordYes, there is a “giraffe piano”.

What this says is that today we only know the forms of the upright and grand piano, but this was not so in the first years after the invention of the piano, or “pianoforte” by Cristofori in the year 1700.  The early pianos were built by harpsichord makers, who traditionally produced harpsichords, épinettes, clavitriums, and clavichords. So the new instrument tried to mimic existing instruments.  The “grand piano” was based on harpsichords or clavecins.  The clavicitériums (clavicierii?) gave birth to “giraffe pianos”. Only the épinettes would not find their avatar in this new family of instruments.

Here is the clavecin.


And a couple of épinettes.


The strings are at an angle.

The clavicythérium is more like a zither than a harpsichord, but we are getting closer to the shape of the giraffe piano.

This one has a demo.

Here is another.

So finally here are some giraffe pianos.

This is a typical one, favored in Germany and Austria. It was made by André Stein in Vienna, Austria around 1810. It is sometimes called an upright grand or Giraffenflügel.  This one has a wood frame with mahogany veneer, leather hammers, iron strings, and silk front panels. The complete description is here. It also has 6 pedals, which typically gave this instrument some sound effects. This one has bassoon, dampers, moderator (3rd and 4th pedals), and Janissary,  a sort of Turkish sound produced with bells and by striking the sounding board.

In the Biedermeier period, between the Congress of Vienna of 1815 and the March Revolution of 1848, middle-class families became important upholders of the musical tradition. The middle-class drawing room was, however, smaller than an aristocratic hall. This is why space-saving pianos were developed, such as the square piano, whose keyboard was arranged parallel to the strings, or pianos where the case is folded upwards, so to speak.

Such instruments were constructed in many forms at the start of the 19th century, mainly in Vienna. The so-called “giraffe” grand piano was a much-loved eye-catcher in the middle-class drawing room. Its silhouette resembles the neck of a giraffe. At the end of the 1820s, the viceroy of Egypt had given a giraffe to the Vienna zoo. This sensation had knock-on effects in many areas of society: Suddenly, everything had to be “à la giraffe”: fashion, hairstyles, ashtrays, drinking vessels. Even “Giraffeln” biscuits were invented. People played the giraffe piano and danced the giraffe gallop.

Here are some, Commons also has a nice selection.

Can’t find an actual “giraffe piano” recording, kind of odd, that, I would like to hear the effects pedals, but here is one for “Byron Cabinet Grand Upright Piano”.

Here is the “Janissary” effect on a different piano.

Intermission: set me free

Set me free, why don’t you babe.
Get out my life, why don’t you babe.
You don’t really need me
You just keep me hanging on.
Why do you keep coming around
playing with my heart?
Why don’t you get out of my life
and let me make a new start?
Let me get over you
the way you’ve gotten over me.
[Lyrics]

The original, by the Supremes:

Here’s a cover by Kim Wilde

A version by Reba McEntire got to #2 in some chart.

But this round I have to give to the dudes, the 1967 hippy-trippy Vanilla Fudge version is currently being recycled for Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Get out the headphones.