La Cosa Preziosa

Passa la banda?  
MP3 recording, photograph

Listen to a short extract of the piece here:

Artist Statement

Passa la banda?, 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. 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 musically 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. This work, composed specifically for Ethnographic Terminalia, was field recorded in the village of Noepoli during the Festa di Sant’Antonio on 11th June 2011. The 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.

This 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.

Field recording to editing lab, this work represents the continuation in the artistic exploration of the keynote sounds of my own cultural heritage. It also raises the question of whether these sounds can speak to other cultures listening in, and whether they translate as emotional expressions of religious and civic sentiment.


La Cosa Preziosa (Susanna Caprara) is an award-winning emerging sound artist originally from the south of Italy and based in Dublin, Ireland. With a keen interest in acoustic ecology, La Cosa Preziosa is committed to producing original work (aural dreamscapes, soundscapes and experimental organic tracks) by exploring the intersection between the realism of field recording and the possibilities of narrative staging. A recipient of the ‘Europe: A Sound Panorama’ prize for soundscape art (Goethe Institut, EBU Ars Acoustica Group, ZKM Karlsruhe), La Cosa Preziosa performs regularly in both Europe and America. In addition to her sound work, Susanna is the founder of the first Artists’ Residency to open in her native Basilicata, Palazzo Rinaldi.

Kindly supported by Culture Ireland