4. Conclusions

I would like to finish off this article by remarking on the repertoires examined here. I have pointed out that, in some cases, traditional forms of musical expressions are still very much alive and that the processes of urbanisation, the sweeping changes occurring in social life and the economic activities have not undermined their vibrance. This is especially true for the rituals linked to certain festive occasions in which both the spectacular characteristic and the community’s involvement are very strong, as is in the case of the feast of the Jews of San Fratello or the Easter Week rites. Instead, the complex musical rituals related to the harvesting of the wheat have by now completely disappeared, together with the job opportunities that went with it. The old manual methods of the wheat harvest, which have today been replaced by mechanical procedures, provided an opportunity for the workers from different parts of the island to exchange their “know-how”, thus fostering not only the circulation of the repertoires but also the creation of new repertoires common to the different traditions.

As regards the Yuletide traditions, the state of conservation of the repertoire appears to be both diverse and highly differentiated. Some events, such as the novenas of the orbi (the bereft), have virtually disappeared, while even in this case the chants linked to the liturgical rites and those linked to the questua augurale (the well-boding alms-collection) appear to be still alive. Very widespread even today is the custom of playing pieces for the zampogna or for very small instrumental groups in people’s homes standing in front of the nativity scene.

The study of the musical repertoires used on the occasions evaluated has also highlighted the results of more recent research on Sicily. Up to some ten years ago it was thought that opera and monodic singing were practised almost exclusively on the island (cfr. Leydi 1973), and that the existence of some multi-vocal repertoires in some small areas of the island was just a sporadic and highly circumscribed occurrence. On the contrary, as has already been pointed out in this article, the most recent field research has shown that the adoption of multivocal singing is widespread across nearly the whole of Sicily and that even today it is an expressive mode that is very much alive and kicking. And so this is where our musical journey round Sicily comes to an end: after having accompanied us across very different, and at times contrasting territorial situations, it has taken us down some roads that cut across their respective cultural situations. This road also conceals the crucial element that is intrinsic to Sicilian tradition even today: the feature that will ultimately determine its perpetuation or its gradual decline.

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