Black music e musicisti napoletani. Un’indagine introduttiva.

Gianpaolo Chiriacò


This paper aims at examining the intersections between the work of Neapolitan musicians and musics composed and performed by artists of African origins. Central in the analysis are three works published within five years (1976-1980): the second release of the band Napoli Centrale (1976); an opera from Roberto De Simone (1976); and Pino Daniele’s Nero a metà (1980). If, on the one hand, the work of James Senese presents strong ties with what has historically been defined as black music and Pino Daniele explicitly mentioned African-American music as his inspiration; on the other hand, Roberto De Simone’s work retains connections that are less visible but not less significant. In his Gatta Cenerentola (1976), he draws upon Sixteenth century vocal Moresca, a song cycle that narrates stories of musicians from Africa who were active in Naples at that time.
Beginning with these three works means to reconstruct an intertextual network of meanings and symbols, spanning over a period of almost five centuries. By observing such network, what emerges is the figure of the Neapolitan musician as a transcultural artist whose activities gravitate around three main points: the struggle against racism, solidarities, and a sense of circular time that moves “from present to past and back again” (Said 1997, 29).


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