“Chillu soldate, come chiagneva”. La questione coloniale negli archivi sonori italiani


  • Giovanni Chiriaco UIBK




In 1972 ethnomusicologists Diego Carpitella and Rudi Assuntino recorded Teresa Zarano in the town of Marcianise, near Caserta. The 49 year-old woman sang some verses of a song that tells the story of a young soldier who comes back from Africa only to discover that his mother is severely ill. The verses – as Zarano already knew– use the same melody of “Faccetta nera”, a song that was composed during the preparation of the Ethiopian invasion and that later became a hymn of the regime and a symbol of fascist nostalgia. 

The main goal of this article is to use Zarano’s song and other similar examples to investigate how the memory of the Italian colonial project remained within musical traditions in Italian regions, as they were analyzed and documented by Italian ethnomusicologists. 

Using the theoretical framework of the ‘entangled histories’, I will show how songs composed during the first and second Italo-Ethiopian wars have been acquired and reshaped, by soldiers as well as by their parents and communities, during and after the colonial experience.

Simultaneously, the analysis will deal with the fluid passages from the media-dominated space of popular music and the realm of oral tradition. Such passages are never linear and have often been dismissed by researchers. To investigate these processes constitutes a fundamental task that allows a different understanding of the historical entanglements as well as of the significant relics that the colonial experience left through and within musical practices.