Occitan language and music

A living heritage of words and notes

"He spoke Provençal in a strange sing-song , with the cadence of the Maritime Alps: high tones like sobs followed by falling and drawling sounds, the sweetness of a lullaby... You could barely understand him. But who was he talking to? The man seemed to speak to angels or himself "writes Francesco Biamonti in the novel L'angelo di Avrigue .

Even today, wandering through the villages of the Maritime Alps, perhaps out of season when there is less noise, you may hear the locals talking to each other in a different language, neither Italian, French nor Piedmontese: it is one of the Occitan dialects, languages with a common denominator that can be traced more to a cultural entity than to a state. Musical, fascinating Neo-Latin languages, the languages of oc, which until a few decades ago were simply considered a bizarre form of Piedmontese and which now, together with traditional music (often revisited, updated, reinvented), contribute again to delineate the boundaries of an extensive cross-border cultural area that goes from the Gulf of Gascony to the Italian side of the Maritime Alps.

Particularly lively, in this sense, is the musical production : more and more groups are using the Occitan musicality and , alongside modern guitars and drums, traditional instruments such as the hurdy-gurdy, the diatonic accordion (in these parts called semitoun ) and the three-hole flute ( galoubet ). The music of the Occitan valleys is not so much music to listen as it is to dance to, the gigo , the courente and balèt dances that animate the summer festivals, particularly in Val Vermenagna.