Anthropology, Creative Practice and Ethnography

March 19, 2021

As part of the 2021 RAI Film Festival, Lorenzo Ferrarini and Nicola Scaldaferri, authors of Sonic Ethnography, will take part in a live conversation on the role of visual, acoustic and textual media for generating ethnographic understandings of social, cultural and political life. The event will take place on Zoom from 8pm to 8:30pm. Visit the official page to join the event.

Merry Christmas!

LEAV – Ethnomusicology and Visual Anthropology Lab wishes you a Merry Christmas with a short video filmed by Nicola Scaldaferri in San Costantino Albanese (PZ, Italy)! The female vocal ensemble Lule Sheshi, coached by Papàs Giampiero Vaccaro, performs here the Christmas Apolitikion from the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. In this performance – filmed in the Church of St Constantine the Great (Greek Byzantine Catholic Church, Italo-Albanese Eparchy of Lungro) – a monodic version in Albanian is coupled with a polyphonic setting in Greek (two voices on a drone called ison). Antonietta Brescia (1929) also appears in the video. She is the only one in the village who still remembers the old liturgical songs, which she performed for the last time in Christmas 1947 (see below the photo by Giuseppe Chiaffitella).


Lindja jote, o Krisht Perëndia ynë, * shkrepi në jetë dritën e ditu- risë, * se për të dhe adhuruesit e ylëzvet * nga ylli qenë të mësuar * të të adhurojnë tyj si diellin e drejtësisë * dhe të të njihjin si lindje prej së larti. O Zot, lavdi tyj.

Ἡ γέννησίς σου Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, * ἀνέτειλε τῷ κόσμῳ, * τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως· * ἐν αὐτῇ γὰρ οἱ τοῖς ἄστροις λατρεύοντες, * ὑπὸ ἀστέρος ἐδιδάσκοντο· * σὲ προσκυνεῖν, * τὸν Ἥλιον τῆς δικαιοσύνης, * καὶ σὲ γινώσκειν ἐξ ὕψους * ἀνατολήν, Κύριε δόξα σοι.

I ghènnisìs su, Christè o Theòs imòn, * anètile to kòsmo * to fòs to tis ghnòseos; * en aftì gar i tis àstris latrèvondes * ipò astèros edhidhàskondo * se proskinìn * ton Ìlion tis dhikeosìnis, * ke se ghinòskin ex ìpsus * anatolìn. Kìrie, dhòxa si.

“1947 Christmas Choir”, photo by Giuseppe Chiaffitella (Antonietta Brescia is fourth from the right)

Ethnomusicology and Visual Ethnography

December 15, 2020

As part of the “Sguardi Sonori” Series, organized by Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Nicola Scaldaferri will take part to a workshop on ethnomusicology and visual ethnography. The event will start at 4pm, and will be web-streamed on FB and YT pages of Università di Cagliari.

Series Poster

The First Sound Heard

July 18, 2020

On the occasion of World Listening Day 2020, we would like to honour R. Murray Schafer’s birthday listening anew to his seminal words about the roots of human listening. Giovanni Cestino, editor of the new Italian edition of Il paesaggio sonoro [The Soundscape] (Ricordi-LIM, forthcoming), reads here the opening of the text in his revised translation. “What was the first sound heard? It was the caress of the waters”…

Giovanni Cestino reads the opening of his revised translation of Schafer’s Il paesaggio sonoro [The Soundscape].

Listening and Recording Vienna “Super Librum”

October 17, 2019

As part of the II Historical Soundscapes Meeting – Évora 2019, Giovanni Cestino (LEAV) will present a paper on his Evening in the Old Town (2019), an audiovisual soundwalk of the Vienna city center based on European Sound Diary (1977). The presentation will take place at Auditório of Colégio Mateus de Aranda of the University of Évora, at 3:20pm.


In 1975, Raymond Murray Schafer and his research group, the World Soundscape Project, toured in Northern Europe to study different rural and city soundscapes. A narrative account of the trip entitled European Sound Diary was among the results of that trip. The book combined excerpts from diaries by Schafer’s collaborators with city soundwalks to be performed by future readers. The soundwalk is an «excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment» (Westerkamp), «a form of active participation in the soundscape» (Truax) introduced by the World Soundscape Project to promote critical listening. A soundwalk often comes, in its written form, as a map with verbal instructions, and may also prescribe soundmaking practice.
Nearly 45 years after the World Soundscape Project trip, I performed the Vienna soundwalk again, documenting my experience in a 17’ video realized with the support of the LEAV (Ethnomusicology and Visual Anthropology Lab, University of Milan). To enhance a first-person perspective, I shot a video with an action camera fastened on my head, and also wore DSM microphones as earphones. Subtitles, elicited from the original soundwalk, have been added in post-production as a step-by-step commentary, and serve as a touchstone of how the Vienna soundscape transformed through time. The result is an audiovisual product which works on multiple levels: while the audiovisual level mediates the researcher’s experience, subtitles stimulate the audience’s response to what they see/hear and what they read.
In this paper I will illustrate the case study, touching on the technical choices and narrative strategies I adopted. Particularly, I will dwell on how certain concrete problems – which arose in the making of – prompted a reflection on some theoretical concerns. This audiovisual soundwalk, based on a previous experience, revealed how the 1977 text can not only work as a prescriptive device, but also as an historical source and a script. Moreover, this multimedia product might provide an additional educational practice in acoustic ecology which joins Schafer’s historical ones. Lastly, this case study contributes to the discussion on the authenticity of documentary practice, and links with the actual debate on the concept of soundscape.