2.b   Pisatýra (threshing)


The term "Pisatýra" or "PisŤra" indicates, in the different local Sicilian expressions both the manual operations linked to the work of threshing and the set of songs, exclamations and declamations of incitement to the animals performed by the "cacciante" during the work and whose driving force is the rhythm of the "turning" in the yard.

We are led to bring together the recital models and the use of the voice in the Sicilian rites of the "thanksgiving" and in that of the "PisŤra" because they both suggest a peculiar match with other codes peculiar to the use of the voice in further popular contexts (the declamations of the pupari [the Sicilian puppeteers] again in Sicily, in the first place, but also the speech of the street vendors as they sell their wares, the

The cacciante Giuseppe Fabio during the pisťra.

Galati Mamertino, San Basilio area, 1993.

(Photo by  G. Fiorentino)

recital of  prayers, the output of the folk singers or the contastorie (storytellers), exclamations or incitements to work, enumerative chants, lullabies). The most emblematic record of such a recital within the scope of this research is represented by the Larata of San Cataldo.



Larata (mp3 file)

In this example the rhythmic beat is independent of the quantity or the accentuation of the syllables. In fact it is closely connected to the modification in the intonation that provokes a periodicity of melodic curves in the recital characterised by an incipit on the sharpest note, followed by an insistence upon a "corda di recita" and a falling "final cadenza". The rhythmical beat can thus be related to a temporal measure (i.e. the recited tempo or silence) that, in its communicative-structural dimension, can only be understood dynamically. In such a way we can single out a sort of metre made up by the repetition of such tones or by their opposition.

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