Roberto Lucanero is a musician and ethnomusicologist. He is active as an accordion, melodeon, medieval portable organ player, composer, teacher, writer. He studied in the Mugnoz school of Loreto, where he studied accordion, piano, harmony and musical analysis. Since adolescence began working as a musician ranging from contemporary music, jazz, singer-songwriters and folk. He has been student of Roberto Leydi and Giampiero Cane, he graduated in ethnomusicology at the DAMS of Bologna with a thesis entitled “The accordion in the central Marche”. In 2011 published “Marchigianista”, an album dedicated to the music and culture of his homeland, the Marches. Currently Roberto Lucanero devoted himself to teaching, to concerts and nonfiction. He teaches regularly diatonic accordion at the Civic School of Music Paolo Soprani of Castelfidardo and the Popular School of Music in Fermo. He regularly gives workshops and lectures on traditional dances, music and traditional dance both in Italy and abroad. As a musician is active only with the trio that bears his name, with the Canzoniere Piceno Popularia, in a duo with Marco Meo (vocals , tambourine), in a duet with Paul Philip Bragaglia (keyboardist, composer). In March 2014 debut at the festival Printemps des Bretelles Illkirch-Graffenstaden (France) with the international group Pentakkordeon, led by accordionist Colombian Antonio Rivas and including Joseba Tapia (Basque Country), Peter Ralchev (Bulgaria), Serge Desaunay (France) Johanna Juhola (Finland).
When did you start playing and why?
I started playing the piano accordion in the second grade. In school full time that I attended was to give lessons, once a week, a music teacher. He was master Edgardo Mugnoz. I decided that I wanted to start by just playing the accordion… without ever having seen one before! My family went along. I found out later that my maternal great-grandfather had built items for accordion, that my maternal grandfather had been a “ripassatore”, that my father had worked as a “vociarolo” and that my mother knew “impellare” items, waxing and… play the accordion!
In my country, in the area of the valley of Musone, between Recanati and Castelfidardo, these kind of genealogies are not uncommon: we are the land of the accordion!
Italy is a country sensitive to music for accordion , or other countries are more receptive?
In Italy there is generally a disconnect between people and institutions. This situation we live it every day in all areas. The music is no exception.
I think the Italian people love music and Italian institutions do not love at all.
The question is not accordion accordion yes or not. I state that I am strongly attached to the Marche before and Italy then. There are absolutely xenophilous. While much loving my country I have to say clearly that Italy is not attentive to the music. I am sure that things will change for the better but only if there are initiatives that will start from the bottom. From private, individual citizens. Certainly not from politics. Those who managed the culture in Italy by proclamation of our Republic to date and, mind you, they were always the same regardless of the alternations of government, should only be ashamed , given the results. Not to sound like a proponent of anti-or, as it was once said, an indifferent, I quote the name of an Italian politician of some time ago that he was genuinely fond of the Italian people, Italy and music: his name is Giuseppe Mazzini. Go read about the writings dedicated to music. Read his Philosophy of Music. We leave from there!
From a cultural point of view, what is the most common image of the accordion?
I think the accordion is very popular in Italy and in the world. By ordinary people and intellectuals, by the rich and the poor. Often accordionists have fears and inferiority complex compared to the other musicians. I have personally never had. The most common image of the accordion is an instrument that brings joy : we should be proud of this and then not make sad our instrument when we play whatever music we play with it!
What are the directories which you prefer and that best combine with the market demand?
I play Marche traditional music and songs that I write. I do not care anything about the “market demand”. If an artist believes in what he does must take into account having to do trend, ie he must create a market even if there is not: it’s what I do since I started playing. I want to clarify what I mean by traditional music of Marche, in a nutshell, of course. “Traditional” as is transmitted directly from teacher to student, often orally. Traditional music is not synonymous with popular music: also the Gregorian chant is traditional or the music of the Renaissance, not only the pawl popular. Often and for various reasons throughout history the passage of traditional knowledge from teacher to student stops and the traditional mechanism of archaeological remains only hotel who often find only in museums. Let me explain. Renaissance provides us today tablature, partial information of the song to which it refers, do not provide us with information, for example on performance practice. The information that we provide and are often inexorably lost are just the traditional information. Having to deal with this hypothetical tablature then rebuild us what is missing today, with more or less creative intent, more or less philological, tablature is a nice scheme to preserve dead in a few library. I do this always with the accordion and diatonic accordion, a few years ago with the portable organ and lately also with accordions “semitonate” and… with the clavichord! On “clavichord and Marches region” I could say many things… but this is not the right occasion.
You’ve been a student of one of the most important Italian ethnomusicologists. Can you talk about your research in the field of popular music?
Roberto Leydi has shown me the way of research, but also the way of the folk revival (which in Italy has practically invented it!).
From the experience of my thesis which is titled “The organ in the Central Marche” continue to take, after so many years, material for my artistic career, for my teaching and for conferences that I often keep around for the world.
For years, I also deal with the study and revived the traditional dance. Together with my friend Mark Meo (dancer, singer, tambourine) hold Marche dances workshops in Italy and abroad. Everything I do around the Marche saltarello is part of my project “The Dance of Fate: ramblings about why Marche saltarello” (this is also the title of my essay from which I drew various articles).
You have been a guest of festivals and events as Folkest. The popular music have much success, especially in the last period. What role has the accordion in this scenario?
The organ has always been a predominant role in its many versions. I love the traditional models of organ. That is, those instruments that have adapted to a traditional repertoire while contributing, as is normal, to evolve the same repertoire. When tradition is alive, or when there is transmission of knowledge from teacher to student, it is normal that there is evolution within the tradition.
Not all accordions are traditional. Some are born from the musical musings of individual musicians entered into a tradition, in a chain of transmission of knowledge. These models interest me a bit’ less.
Can you talk about your experience in teaching popular music?
I try to follow two paths simultaneously: the empirical, rather traditional, and the theoretical one. In practice with my students I use the pentagram accordion, the tablature but also the “look and learn”!
Can you tell us what are you working on these days?
Artistically I’m working on a record with my trio, as well as myself, by Francesco Tesei (bass and guitar) and Dominico Candellori (percussion). I’m working hard as artistic director of the International Prize and Competition in Castelfidardo, for accordionists. The regulation is about to be published: we’ll see some good!!!
This article is available also in: Italian