27 d’octubre del 2013

Omertà, onuri e sangu: la musica della mafia. Vol. II

It began as a journalist project in 1999, when the Calabrian photographer Francesco Sbano, who lives in Germany, began research in Calabria on the "Canto di Malavita” - songs of a life of crime - for the news Magazine Der Spiegel. At this time no one imagined that this would result in the production of a CD-trilogy, which has now been completed with the release of Volume Three, "Le Canzoni Della Onorata Società”.

The perhaps most intriguing aspect of this cultural phenomenon is the delivery of such equally poetic and brutal lyrics, portraying La N’ndrangheta, the Calabrian Mafia, in the supposedly harmless genre of the folk song. Its fascination lies within the manner in which these songs of a life of crime, with all of its codes, symbols and rules, are expressed in a virtually stereotype Italian mix of indisputable style and moving pathos.

However, since Hollywood’s glorification of the Mafia via the contrivance of an entire film genre dedicated to the Italian version of organized crime, the reality of its victims of violence and tyranny has been more or less banished from the public’s awareness. Films such as The Godfather gloss over this exclusion with delusive, but more profitable heroes.

The content of the songs sheds light on the fact that the Mafiosi are not the engrossed potentates portrayed in films, but a by all means grounded community of values, organized in the strict discipline of secrecy, honor and blood. The only vital difference from its prevalent Christian counterpart lies in the deadly consequences with which its laws are implemented.

The CD trilogy "La Musica della Mafia” gives credence to this notion. As a highly intriguing document of contemporary history, the music has awakened diverse academic interest. The question of its authenticity remains fascinating not only for musicologists, cultural scientists, historians, criminologists or specialists in Italian language and culture, but also for those dealing with the development of so-called parallel societies. Particularly in the establishment of concepts such as all-embracing honor, the Mafia subject is a highly contemporary reference. Murder for the sake of honor is not an exclusively Italian phenomenon; it is a typical indicator for any society of double moral standards. 

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