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The people of May

Dear Gentlemen, I greet you all ... I sing you two ditties and also the facts of May that brings us the flowers and fruits, we will reap them after they become rope...if you pass though the Marche in May, you won’t be able to leave the country without having in your head this tune. Also the camper of the il cammino della musica was hit by the irony of Marche ditties, and nowit continues its march with a cat leather resting on the seat and engraved with a ditty dedicated to the cammino. (vedi "Farewell to Marche with saltarello")
I am in Morro d'Alba (AN), where the third Sunday of May they celebrate a feast that collects very ancient customs and traditions connected with the spring season and the renewal of life: it is the Cantamaggio. Originally it was celebrated the night of the 30th of April and the first day of May with teams of musicians called "maggianti", with organ, triangle, tambourine, voices and imagination that go in the houses of the village, bringing joy to people through a song ritual of collection that wishes prosperity for the harvest and the work. The symbol of Cantamaggio is a large tree that is planted at the end of the feast in the central square of the village with the purpose to wish the fertility of the earth and women.
Interpreters of this ritual, which has its roots in very remote times, is a whole people, that since years has decided to re-propose and interpret, in a current way, this tradition that otherwise would have risked to fall out of use totally, due to the economical - social upheavals of recent times.
Today, the "May" has nothing to do with the artificial reconstruction of an old memory, but with its music and its dancing, is still rooted, and lives in the DNA of people who lives it; this is not either a phenomenon linked to a single annual occurrence: here you sing and dance during every occasion of celebration and sharing, young and old people joined together by a single language.
Walking through the Marche villages, it may happen to attend a performance of singing, which sometimes becomes a real competition; quick repartee between skilful singers who catch rapidly the most effective words from their fantastic vocabulary, creating funny and provocative ditties in rhyme. In the ditties there are often explicit sexual references, and they are accompanied by the sound of lively saltarelli and by the steps of tireless dancing couples.
Each tragic or comic episode, every type of character or person, every situation can be inspiration for new improvised ditties. But people must not take offence, it would be a further incentive to the creation of new ditties and to the mockery shared between singers, players and audience.
Mario Amici is one of the veterans among ditties singer of Marche, but also one of the most active, the night of Cantamaggio was the last to come back home after having spent the whole day to sing his ditties and play an instrument that it seems it has been invented by him. It is called "segone" or "violin of the poor" a piece of wood shaped as a violin and rubbed with a wooden bow. He told jokes and sang ditties to an audience of young people sitting on the square of Morro d'Alba, until late at night. Everyone listened to him with great admiration, his wife with great resignation, incredulous of what his imagination was able to invent. He learned to sing by his ancestors, now his son Stefano is a skilful builder of tambourines, he has also invented a 10 meters long organ which needs 5 people to be played and his nephew Marco, five years old, starts beating the first shots on the tambourine
MORE PICTURES (those published on this page are pictures of JESSE)
THANKS TO: Mario Amici, Danilo Donninelli, Stefano Amici, La Damigiana, Gianni Donnini, Paolo Polverini, Gastone Petrucci Ass. Cult. La Macina, il Bar di Morro d'Alba, all the people of May, the City of Morro d'Alba, Ilaria Fava, the martinicchia, brothers Samuel and Sauro Accattoli, Nardino Beldomenico, Primo Pirani, Il cielo in una danza, Stefania Giuliani ...
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