Flutes and the percussion have been used as sound generators for at least 40,000 years. Made from parts of plants, animal skins and bones, they are probably the first musical instruments of mankind that have accompanied or replaced the singing of the voice or the clapping of the hands. On April 21, 2018, Incense of Music No. 25 presented late successors of these two instrument families and offered a program with medieval Italian music, contemporary pieces by Racheal Cogan, songs and dances from Greece, Iran and Turkey. On stage Valentina Bellanova from Florence and Sebastian Flaig from Freiburg, classically trained musicians who maintained since years a broad stylistic spectrum, ranging from oriental music to jazz, from contemporary to early music. Valentina brought a sopranino, a soprano, a tenor and a bass recorder to make music, as well as a ney and a shakuhachi; Sebastian – two different drums, a santur, a large cymbal, a daf, a tombac, meditation bells and singing bowls.
Recorders that could be played with both hands have been documented in Europe since the early Middle Ages. As a whole family of instruments, through all pitches, the recorder established itself until the Renaissance. The Central Asian ney (made from a tube of Arundo donax open on both sides) and the Chinese shakuhachi (made from Madake bamboo) have been in use for much longer. In their respective cultures, they are considered instruments for spiritual purposes. Dafs are frame drums that consist of a flat, circular wooden frame that is covered on one side with goat skin or sheepskin. These instruments are widespread in the Middle East, southern Central Asia, India, the Arab countries, the Maghreb and Southeast Europe. The tombac, a wooden goblet drum, comes from Persia. Also the santur, a trapezoidal instrument, covered with 72 metal strings, to be played with light wooden mallets. It is also used in Iraqi and Indian art music.
The artists transformed the fire and sound power of these instruments into a musical journey that spanned several centuries and continents. The program, cheerful and festive, invited to dance. The whole thing can be emulated through the video documentation of two pieces that we present here: one from the Italian Middle Ages, the other, White Call, composed by Sebastian Flaig.
We intervened with two well-established classic incenses, which we had often presented profitably in our series: frankincense and labdanum. These precious gifts of nature symbolize, as a duo on the fragrance level, the relationship between east and west: the best Boswelia sacra comes from Oman, remember the legendary frankincense road from Dhofar to Gaza; the labdanum, the resin from the rock rose, was already highly appreciated in ancient Greece. It became a rich evening with many different protagonists. It’s all about meeting, and a lot came together that evening.