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Ticino: Genuine Folk Music from Southern Switzerland

This record is a musical journey through Switzerland's southernmost canton of Ticino. It reflects the flourishing folk tradition in the country's Italian-speaking region.

These melodies, ballads, songs and dances are typical of the temperament of the Ticino people, and of their spontaneous spirit and natural emotions. Contrasting moods of merriment and melancholy are symbolic of their day-to-day lives and find their expression in this music.


Ticino is world-renowned today as a sunny palm-tree paradise for tourists. But much of the original music reflects another image of this region – one of tiny villages and valleys plagued by poverty. Until as recently as the middle of the 20th century, Ticino was a largely destitute and depressed region whose people were frequently forced by economic necessity to emigrate. This past is reflected in many a melancholic melody – but so too is the general joy of living and the will to survive. Both are characteristic of this canton’s native “Ticinesi”.

The purpose of this project has been to capture Ticino’s traditional music – and the experience was a fascinating one. The project team led by musicologist Pietro Bianchi became acquainted with musicians from all across the Ticino canton who – in their own environment and far from sterile studios – were able to express their musical feelings freely. Very few of them were actually involved in the music business in a commercial sense.

The folk culture of this region may seem to be confined to narrow frontiers. Yet it has reached far beyond its own restricted borders and has itself been influenced by foreign cultures. Consequently this edition can be considered not so much as simply a sound document from Ticino or even Switzerland, but more as a project of European proportions.

On the music

As previously indicated this edition represents an inventory of traditional folk music in the Ticino canton. Music and ensembles were selected according to two fundamental criteria: a geographic and a thematic one.

Producer Pietro Bianchi distinguished:

– songs that are part of the life cycle, from the children’s counting rhyme “Trenta, quaranta” to the funeral valse “Miserere”.

– songs belonging to the annual cycle as the carnival song “La vegia” or the begging song for the 1st May “Il Maggio”.

– soldiers’ songs or songs with a political background as “Il disertore”, but also

– simply entertaining songs and melodies.

Following music genres made it to the list: ballads or epic-lyric songs, typical Italian folksongs, work songs or songs from the tavern.

Production information

Ticino: Genuine Folk Music from Southern Switzerland. Musica Helvetica MH CD 71.2 (1989). Produced for SRI by Patrick Linder. Musical direction by Pietro Bianchi.

Frikitek: Trenta, quaranta – Thirty, forty

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR