The Bagpipe Society

In the Bag - Fabio Resta

Fabio graduated from the University of Bologna with a thesis in ethnomusicology on the Macedonian kaval in 2016 and has always been involved in traditional music, exploring the repertoire and performance practices of flutes, bagpipes and percussion of the Near East (kaval and gajda in Macedonia, ney in Turkey ) and of the European Middle Ages. Particularly interested in the music of oral tradition, he made several trips to the Balkans and Turkey, where music is still taught respecting a traditional path, assimilating the different modal languages and the practices that unite the music scene of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. He studied with key figures from the world of traditional music in Italy, Turkey, Macedonia, Japan, Indonesia and collaborated with prestigious institutions such as the Fenice in Venice and Studio B in Belgrade. He takes care of the diffusion and research on traditional music through concerts and teaching at Scuola di Musica Popolare di Forlimpopoli.

What bagpipes do you play?

I play piva emiliana, zampogna zoppa, galician gaita, macedonian gajda, slovak gajdy and turkish tulum.

What led you to take up piping?

Mostly the rediscovery of the music of my region, Emilia Romagna. But also the exposure to the high number of medieval festivals in Italy from which are often born very interesting musical realities since 80’s.

Which pipers do you most admire?

I’m not so into Scottish music so my favourite pipers are Franco Calanca (piva emiliana, also great highland bagpipe), Stefche Stojkovski and Pece Atanasovski for macedonian gajda.

Violin music of my valley (Valle del Savena) which helped me to form a convincing performance practice on piva. It is one of the three violinistic traditions of northern Italy that come down to us without interruption. It is therefore a huge musical patrimony as well as a chance to break away from the “imported” bagpipe practices and to normalize the style. I was also very inspired by Italian Ars Nova and Turkish makam.

What three albums are top of your playlist right now?

I don’t have a playlist right now. I can tell that last album I listened to was Scarlatti’s Concerti Sacri interpreted by Raffaele Pe and La Lira di Orfeo.

If you had your life again, what instrument would you play?

Maybe singing? I would never have to take any more musical instruments on airplanes or trains!

Name your favourite music festival.

I have really enjoyed the last few of the Ravenna Festival directed by Mazzavillani Muti.

What three words describe your piping style?

Bright, wild and unconventional.

Bellows or mouth-blown?


Cats or dogs?

Maybe goats.

Do you prefer playing, dancing or both?

Just playing!

Cane or plastic reeds?

Preferably cane reeds.

What’s your greatest musical achievement?

Have played in jail and made the inmates cry whilst reminiscing their land and their music.

What’s your most embarrassing bagpiping moment?

Once I didn’t memorise what I was supposed to perform with other 15 bagpipes. I pretended to play almost from the beginning to the end.

What’s the most annoying question you get asked about the bagpipes?

Always the usual - Is it a Scottish bagpipe? How long I haven’t heard a Zampogna!, it takes a lot of breath?

What advice would you give a novice?

Find a very good master, even if it involves catching a plane. Always be open to listening to “other music”, do not be closed to only one musical genre. Search for beauty and avoid mediocrity. Always find opportunity to confront and play with other musicians. Find a house without neighbours.

I love bagpipes because…

At least with this musical instrument I don’t have to worry about dynamics. It is also a great way to move away from home unwelcome guests.