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Monday Notes

Domenico Modugno, the last night of the Vecchio frack

[Monday Note no. 147] Vecchio Frack is a song recorded by Domenico Modugno in 1955. The song tells of the last night walk of a man in frack, who in the morning will be found dead in the river. Modugno said he was inspired by a news story, the suicide of a well-known high society…

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Monday Notes

Compay Segundo, Chan Chan. Four chords and four towns

[Monday Note no. 137] Buena Vista Social Club is a documentary film shot by Wim Wenders in 1999. The film follows the album of the same name by two years and aims to promote the music of some aged Cuban musicians brought back to the public eye by guitarist Ry Cooder. Among them is guitarist…

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Monday Notes

Robert Johnson, They’re Red Hot. Between blues and minstrel show

[Monday Notes No. 135] Robert Johnson is a blues legend. He died at only 27 years of age, of him there remain a handful of recordings in which he sings accompanied by guitar, in the classic Delta blues style. One of these recordings, however, is very different from the others: it’s a song, entitled They’re…

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Monday Notes

Domenico Modugno, Amara terra mia. An Italian spiritual

[Monday Note No. 134] Amara Terra mia is a song that Domenico Modugno reinterpreted and thus brought to the attention of the whole of Italy. The original piece titled Nebbia alla valle (Fog in the valley) dates back to the early 20th century and was a work song of the olive harvesters of the Abruzzo…

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Monday Notes

Enzo Jannacci, Ma mi. The Tale of a Partisan

[Monday Notes no. 128] Ma mi is a lyric by Giorgio Strehler set to music by Fiorenzo Carpi. First recorded on Ornella Vanoni’s debut album, the song is however much more suited to Enzo Jannacci, who made it his classic.

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Monday Notes

Vidala Triste, Gato Barbieri’s journey between the Andes and jazz

[Monday Notes No. 57] Vidala triste is the final track on Gato Barbieri’s album Bolivia. It is the only sung piece of the whole album, a melancholic nursery rhyme rather than a real song. Gato Barbieri combines popular music of the Andes and jazz music, creating very evocative and interesting music.

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Monday Notes

Gato Barbieri, Merceditas. Music of the Andes meets Jazz

[Monday Notes No. 56] Merceditas is taken from Bolivia, one of Gato Barbieri’s best albums. The song makes extensive use of the pentatonic scale. The scale is used in various musical cultures, from Africa to the Far East, to Andean folk music, which uses instruments tuned precisely to the pentatonic scale.

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