Association history

In 1982, the town council of Cagliari, following an idea of the folk group Città di Cagliari (Town of Cagliari), financed a course of Launeddas (old musical instrument). The course was directed by Luigi Lai, one of the most important experts of Launeddas who was a pupil of Efisio Melis and Antonio Lara, legendary players who have greatly contributed to the instrument technical development and to the repertory enrichment.

More than 120 students took part in the course, coming from different zones of Sardinia, moved by a deep interest or by simple curiosity. The course lasted 4 years, during which time the many scholars learned the basics concerning the Launeddas and began to develop different interests. Some of them dedicated themselves to the instrument construction, others to historical research and yet others to the safeguard of the immense musical history that risked being lost.

Following the performance given by Luigi Lai, a big ensemble, called "la banda" (the band), was given birth. It was composed by the students who took part in the course. It performed simple music for Launeddas and participated in several popular events, usually religious, arousing some interest.

After 1986, the course was stopped. A creative group of students, after useless attempts of re-opening the school, thought it was time to form a steady group to face the difficult problem of relaunching Launeddas.

So, in 1987, the Cultural Association "CUNCORDIA A LAUNEDDAS" was founded in Cagliari. Its aim was not only to propose the music for Launeddas but also the history of the instrument and the role it has been playing for centuries from the musical, the social, and cultural points of view.

Nearly all the members came from geographical zone of Sardinia where the continuity has been lost, that is to say that there were neither makers nor players left. They were only remembered by the majority of grown-ups. The only exception was G. Meloni, son of a player, coming from the Sarrabus region, that did not have generation gaps about the players and makers, where some of the most important players of the XXth century were born, and where the tradition was still alive.

The younger generations, if not coming from those few areas where the tradition still exists, knew the myth “Launeddas” through the memories of their parents or grand-parents who associated Launeddas to the experiences they had during their youth: dancing in the village centre, or participating in religious celebrations. Among the games played by children was the construction of reeds similar to those used for the Launeddas, even though these children had never seen, nor heard the real sound of this instrument. The agony of an instrument which has set the rhythm of life in Sardinia for over three thousands years, was taking place. Rapidly, Launeddas moved from their ultimate splendour of the beginning of the XXth century to a quick decline, at the end of the century.

The members of the group had developed an interest for the Launeddas both from a musical and from an historical point of view. Coming to know the instrument as grown-ups, they immediately realised how important it was. Their cultural formation did the rest. The stimulus, to face the Launeddas world, not only from the musical, but also from the scientific point of view, was a logical consequence.

Up to that moment, Launeddas players were considered as belonging to a culture to be studied and presented by those who had the instruments to do it. It was the first time, with the Association Cuncordia a Launeddas, that the players themselves were able to do both things at the same time; to deal with subjects known directly without transmitting commonplaces due to the impossibility of direct verification.

The musical orientation of the group can be imagined thanks to its name "Cuncordia" which in the Launeddas players’ language means, “to play together”. However, the players who, according to the tradition, could participate in this small ensemble, were usually never more than four. Therefore, it was necessary to solve difficulties connected with the instrument tuning, and to its low volume to obtain an orchestral type of setting.

The association has a statute that establishes the operative rules of this research and states that Cuncordia a Launeddas is a non-profit association and is not connected to any commercial organisation.