The Bagpipe Society

In the Bag - Carlo Massarelli

Carlo Massarelli is from Puglia, Southern Italy. For more than 10 years he has been playing ethnic music and studying traditional instruments from different regions of the world. He initially studied the pizzica pizzica tarantella, Apulian traditional dance, and played throughout Italy, Europe and, in the last few years, in America. He has since taken new music, dances and instruments that captured his attention and moved into a "fusion style". As an engineer, he developed the first model of digital electronic “zampogna”, at the Politecnico di Torino. His main projects are:

TEMPUS MUTATUR (Celtic and medieval), TARANTELLA SIN FRONTERAS (pizzica, tarantella and original tunes), EL TEMPORAL (Mexican son jarocho fusion)

What bagpipes do you play?

Zampogna a chiave (IT), Musette du centre (FR), Surdulina (IT).

Do you play any other instruments?

Yes: flutes, recorders, shawms, clarinet, accordion and some other stuff.

What led you to take up piping?

The first time I heard some bagpipes I remained fascinated and when I knew a friend of mine was selling one of its pipes I could not resist.

Which pipers do you most admire?

Vincent Boniface, Giulio Bianco, Luigi Lai

Name three, non-piping-related musical influences: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Riccardo Tesi e Banditaliana, Parafonè What three albums are top of your playlist right now?

Massimo Donno - Partenze

Valerio Daniele - Sine corde and...

Frammenti Salentine - NO NAME YET (is the one I am mixing, now).

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

Some cheap and easy guitar, please.

Name your favourite music festival.

Boulegan a l’Ostal - France.

What are the most memorable gigs you’ve been to (involving pipes or not)?

First time in Switzerland with “Tempus Mutatur”. One month playing medieval music on the road with no organization and in total poverty. A lot of bread and cheese (and beer).

What three words describe your piping style?

Self-taught, rude, improvisation

Bellows or mouth-blown?

Mouth-blown. Bellows is for softy and snob players :- )

Cats or dogs?

Both. Together. In a mortal combat.

Are there any bagpipes you dislike?

I do not love Scottish GHB. Too hard, loud and unstable for me. I also dislike closed fingerings.

Do you prefer playing, dancing or both?

Playing of course. I am very bad at dancing.

Cane or plastic reeds?

Plastic reeds for bagpipes. Cane reeds for shawms

What’s your greatest musical achievement?

Maybe when I made some very risky musical fusion mixing son jarocho (traditional music from southern Mexico) and bagpipes and some very important tradition keepers (usually conservative guys) told me: “What wonderful musical fusion! It seems that bagpipes fit naturally on son jarocho, as it always did. "

What’s your most embarrassing bagpiping moment?

When I lose the little conical drone of my “zampogna a chiave” because of weather and she suddenly loses all the air and stops and everyone looks at me.

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

“Are you Scottish? You play bagpipes so you come from Scotland.

Bagpipes are from Scotland, right?”

What advice would you give a novice?

Prepare yourself for a deep relationship of love and hate.

I love bagpipes because…

I don’t like too obvious and practical instruments. If some instrument doesn't need a few hours of lovey-dovey to work properly, it’s not interesting for me.

As told to Andy Letcher