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date: 22 August 2019

Corsica locked

  • Caroline Bithell


The fourth largest island in the Mediterranean with a population of 250,400 (1990 census), Corsica has suffered successive domination by foreign powers. From the 11th to the 18th century it was governed in turn by Pisa and Genoa. Excluding a brief interlude as the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom (1794–96), the island has belonged to France since 1768. The indigenous language, Corsican, is still spoken but given little official recognition. While external influences might be assumed, the isolation and inaccessibility of the mountainous interior, whose inhabitants have traditionally pursued a pastoral lifestyle, has favoured the preservation of numerous archaisms in musical structure, style, vocal technique and psycho-social dynamics.

19th- and early 20th-century song collections focus almost exclusively on texts, predominantly laments. Extensive collections of field recordings were made by Félix Quilici in 1948, 1949 and 1960–63; Wolfgang Laade in 1956, 1958 and 1973; and Markus Römer in 1974–5. These and other recordings are being reunited at the Phonothèque of the Musée de la Corse, Corte....

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Revue de musicologie