Freie Rhythmen

Süden Radio 2013


In the 70s, from 1970 to 1973, ethnomusicologist Michael Giacometti visited several rural areas in Portugal to record the most genuine singing forms that accompanied the natives' daily lives, marked by hard agricultural labor. A TV series was produced out of this research, titled Povo que Canta.

From dawn to dusk and night, those men and women who barely knew how to read and write used to sing during work, before and after, according to the function and feeling in question: they sang to the Earth’s fertility, they sang to the animals, they sang to catalyze the collective effort, to distract the spirit, to communicate with each others at the distance, to celebrate the harvest or just the end of one more day of work…they sang to flatter, to celebrate the patron saints, their landlords or the married lovers…

Diana Combo used samples from various episodes featuring songs, conversations and environmental sounds in the background to build a radio piece under the theme garden.

The title makes reference to the rhythms of work, which constitutes the central activity around which the characters define their days, and the rhythms of singing, marking the tensions and the ambiguity between what oppresses and what liberates.

The TV program was broadcasted during the final years of the fascist dictatorship in Portugal and it documents how suspended in time the country seemed to be. Following the Italian and German models, the Portuguese government led by Salazar implemented FNAT, a state-controlled leisure organization (Fundação Nacional para a Alegria no Trabalho).

The idea of making people face work as a liberating force resonates with the nazi slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei": the cultural constructions underlying the political ideologies of that time aimed to feed people with a fake patriotic feeling. Meanwhile, men and women in the rural areas were singing their way in parallel routes. These authentic forms of traditional culture remained unknown and may sound exotic to most of the contemporary portuguese.

Diana Combo has been working with sound since finishing her studies on Sound and Image. So far she has produced a solo performing project using deformed vinyl records, she participated in several workshops (from improvisation to field recordings and diy electronics), she taught Sound Art at ESAD (Superior School of Arts and Design - Caldas da Raínha, Portugal). She played with Andrea Neumann, João Martins, Filipe Silva, Ana Veloso, Liz Allbee, Antoine Chessex, Mário Costa, Werner Dafeldecker, Eduardo Raon, Marcelo dos Reis, Jorge Queijo, Burkhard Beins, Peixe, Zé Miguel Pinto, João Ricardo and Nate Wooley. Recently, Diana Combo was a resident at Ausland, where she developed and presented (ears). Since 2010 she has produced several radio pieces that were transmitted by RadiaLx, RadioFutura, NTS and Ecos.


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