Thursday, May 21, 2015

La Sampogna

The Sampogna is a wooden flute made from the sambuca tree, probably originally by mountain shepherds. There is also an Italian bagpipe, also used by shepherds...when there still were Italian shepherds that is, called a Zampogna.

"Pliny records the belief held by country folk that the shrillest pipes and the most sonorous horns were made of Elder trees which were grown out of reach of the sound of cock-crow. At the present day, Italian peasants construct a simple pipe, which they call sampogna, from the branches of this plant."

I can imagine, at least it seems reasonable to assume that the zampogna, that you hear all over Italy at Christmas, is named after the earlier simpler flute named after the Sambuca tree.

Herblore. It's fun!



John said...

Elderberries are supposed to be good for flu, so a friend told me years ago. It seemed to be the thing that once rid me of a persistent bout of the miseries. A girl I used to go with (pre marriage-to-Mary, I hasten to add) tried her vocation with a Dominican monastery and became sort of their resident herbal-pharmacist at that time. And then - as you occasionally put it so succinctly - the meteor hit and, though the vocation was lost in the wreckage, the interest in medicinal herbs remained. And she seems to have been right about elderberry juice, which I suppose comes from the elder tree. (Or is this whole ramble based on an etymological fallacy?)

Julian Goodacre makes some lovely English pipes with double chanters, not unlike the zampogna. Higher in pitch and perhaps a bit edgier in tone.



Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Oh no, you're quite right John. Elderberries produce a black or very dark purple juice and were the most commonly used cough remedy in the middle ages. Their qualities are well documented. Personally, I don't care much for the taste (now blackberries...!) but I will be making some more elderberry cordial this autumn to replenish the stuff I made in England. Everyone I've given some to who's had a cough has said it's very beneficial, and of course, loaded with vitamins.