A New Film On Italian Polyphonic Singing By Hugo Zemp

In the fall of 1954, Alan Lomax recorded several styles of remarkable polyphonic singing in the Genoa and in the Ligurian mountains north of San Remo. In the feature-length documentary, POLYPHONY OF CERIANA. THE COMPAGNIA SACCO,  ethnomusicologist and filmmaker Hugo Zemp brings the vocal polyphony of Ceriana vividly to life as he follows the Compagnia Sacco singing medieval ballads, love songs, and the occasional pop songin many contemporary contexts of village life. This is a superb film about the enjoyment of singing, and about people for whom singing is clearly a unifying act, whose waves of vocal harmony engender, as it were, all-round harmony. Zemp found that Lomax’s sound recordings in 1954, and his invitation to the choir to participate in the Smithsonian’s Bicentennial Celebration of U.S. Independence on the Washington Mall, were signally important in preserving and keeping alive this local tradition.

Preview this film here.

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Originally posted: May 2, 2012