A good friend of mine runs a charity organization based in Milan called “Associazione Giuseppe Bigi ONLUS”, dedicated to promoting the work of young researchers in the areas of Immunology and Hemotology. It’s a wonderful association that hosts a lecture series and also sponsors research with the “Giuseppe Bigi Memorial Reward”, in collaboration with the American Society of Hemotology. They also do quite a bit of work with the European Hematology Association.
During the year they organize various fundraising events. One such event took place a couple of weeks ago here in Milan, near Porta Venezia. It was a classical music concert presented on organ and zampogna.
If you’re like me, you had this reaction: “Zampogna?! It sounds like a dessert…” In fact, it’s an Italian bagpipe.
OK, so that may be simplifying it a bit, but it gives you the general idea. Really, the term “zampogna” covers a variety of instruments from Central & Southern Italy (as far north as Le Marche) that are all very different, yet fundamentally the same. Traditionally, the “bag” part of the zampogna is made from a goat or sheep’s hide that is removed in one piece, sewn together and turned inside out (with the hair still on it). A particular number of hollow, wooden “pipes” are attached to the bag by means of a singular round stock. The number of pipes depends on the region, but can be anywhere from two (a “chanter” and a “drone”) to… well, I’ve read about one that has two chanters and three drones, but I don’t know if that’s the maximum.
Zambogna are measured in terms of “palms”, as you would measure a horse in “hands”. Most of them are the size you think of when you think of a bagpipe but there is also the GIANT zampogna, which (along with the more standard size) Alberto Bertolotti played during the charity concert. Check it out: