La Cosa Preziosa || Passa la banda?

Passa la banda? (2011), ‘is the marching band coming by?’ is the question on everybody’s lips when a religious festivity approaches in this rural corner of southern Italy. This is because the presence of la banda, sonically marking the importance of the occasion while also adding an air of celebration, is reassuring in its unchanging presence. This work was field recorded in the village of Noepoli during the Festa di Sant’Antonio on 11th June 2011.


This secluded hilltop village is one of only 6 communities in the Basilicata area of the Pollino National Park, the largest protected natural area in Italy: a privileged location where sounds and traditions remain timeless. The soundscape presents the various phases of the celebration marked by the banda: from the early morning procession and Mass being celebrated, to the climax of the ‘botti’ fireworks and tarantella dances, from the afternoon procession to the country auction where anything – from cheeses to live cattle – are sold to raise funds for the parish. Along with its loud tunes and colorful uniforms, la banda brings with it a powerful emotive charge.

Its instruments sonically distributed to be heard by as many people as possible, tunes delivered with energy and amplified by the narrow cobbled streets, la banda highlights the passing of the Holy statue carried in procession – itself a ritual marking of public space. The combined effect calls the village to participate in the present while evoking a primordial past. Field recording to editing lab, this work represents the continuation in the artistic exploration of the keynote sounds of my own cultural heritage between Italy and Ireland.

This piece is intended as a sonic ethnography of a local ritual, but also to provide the listener with an immersive cultural experience through the medium of sound. It also raises the question of whether sounds with strong folkloric connotations can speak to other cultures listening in, and whether they translate as emotional expressions of religious and civic sentiment. ‘Passa La Banda?’ was selected for performance at Ethnographic Terminalia 2011 in Montréal, Canada and received a Culture Ireland award the same year.

BIO || La Cosa Preziosa (Susanna Caprara) is a sound artist, editor and field recordist originally from the south of Italy and based in Dublin, Ireland. The pseudonym La Cosa Preziosa (‘the precious thing’) refers to the beauty and fragility of the natural sounds that regularly feature in her soundscapes. These have been performed both in Europe and overseas, at shows and festivals that include Ethnographic Terminalia/span> (Montréal), Soundwaves Brighton, the International Streaming Festival (The Hague) and BEAM Festival (Brunel University). Recently curated Sound Devices: explorations in sound and literature for Rathmines Public Library / UNESCO Dublin City of Literature (2013) and completed a large scale Public Art Commission on the subject of the Irish Grand Canal (Offaly County Council/ Dept. of the Environment and Local Government, 2011). Recipient of the ‘Europe: A Sound Panorama‘ juried prize for soundscape art (Goethe Institut Belgrade, Deutschland Radio Kultur, ZKM Institut for Music and Acoustics Karlsruhe, Radio Belgrad, European Broadcasting Union Ars Acoustica Group), of a Culture Ireland Travel Award (2011) and of a Dublin City Council Artist Bursary for Music (2012). In addition to her sound art work, Susanna is also the founder and director of the first Artists’ Residency to open in her native Basilicata, Palazzo Rinaldi.