Meeting Rinatu Coti, a musical and linguistic experience


This was an experience I was truly looking forward to. Rinatu Coti, holds a world of knowledge and culture where both Corsican music and language merge and blend. President of an association, Filu d’Amparera in Ajaccio, where both cultures are provided to all, initiated around 10 years ago and growing constantly, where over 100 participants now immerse with attentiveness.

One could say here again, a passion being transmitted with energy and earnest. Collaborators having been Grégory doc Rossi and Migheli Raffaelli, who reintroduced an early instrument the ‘cetera’, (from the cither family), regaining a certain rebirth within Corsican music. These same instruments are produced here on the island, as there are three luthiers.
Also  amongst those who work closely alongside Rinatu Coti, we can see Jean-Pierre Godinat (Cinqui So) and Jacques Maton, both of whom I met and who were also very occupied with future preparations.

If you have ever heard Corsican Polyphony, you realise you’ll never forget it. Transmitted through the generations, it evokes every day life and deals with powerful emotions and memories, and is extremely varied, styles being sacred, traditional, contemporary and religious too. A certain modernisation has been also adapted by some groups, and the choice is left to the listener in the end here, I tend to prefer the original, traditional side, which never leaves me indifferent.
There are three very distinct voices in Corsican polyphony: ‘seconda’, ‘prima’ and ‘terza’ – where the traditional polyphonic singing ‘Paghjella, Madricale and Terzettu’ hold identity and culture.

Paghjella, coming from the north of Corsica, signifying ‘together’. Madricale, which is often like a love song and Terzettu, which actually dates back to the middle ages – these are some of the main types, and we must remember it is not at all unusual to listen to groups singing ‘a capella’, where the voices alone are totally sufficient.

Now, as regards the principal instruments: cetera, (with 4-8 double strings, and as I said, from the cither family), pivana (a type of flute), cialamella (from the oboe family), riberbulla (harp), pirula (reed recorder), mandolin, caramusa (a type of bagpipe), and of course, the guitar. I cannot help but think that many of these names themselves generate music alone … willingly, I can name various groups that notably characterise the movement today: Canta U Populu Corsa, Tavagna, l’Arcusgi, A Filetta, Barbara Furtuna, I Chjami Aghjalesi and Voce Ventu, amongst the most prominent. Stirring, enduring and revealing, this music combined with these voices is an exceptional experience, which leaves you in admiration, but also consternation – for the sentiments involved are intense, and as I previously stated, never leave you with a sentiment of indifference.

Within this association, children from 3 years of age are learning the traditional songs, perpetuating the innate culture once again. I attended their ‘end of year’ concert eagerly recently, and was very impressed with the quality and diversity, obviously bound in sheer pleasure. Rinatu Coti has participated in international conferences and hops over to Sardinia too, when time permits. Surrounded by a solid and motivated team of colleagues, his wide experience and maturity relates to the roots of the Corsican language too. As it is, there is only one centre where a linguistic stay is assured, and where children can spend a certain time, in Vivario, but there is a second one planned to see the day in Bastelica – essential in my mind too, in order to acquire and maintain the native language of this island. He would very much like to see many more of these centres springing up over the island. One of the main problems where the language is concerned is the recurring fact that too often some words become ‘frenchified’, and this can lead to a certain long term deformation too, which is difficult to correct.

Speaking with this man, one senses the attachment and engagement involved, a genuine generosity and comprehension of values, so necessary in order to continue and cultivate, preparing and guiding future generations with respect for their heritage.

Photo credit: Filu d’Amparera

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