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Camilla Barbarito is a Milanese singer and performer.

She was formed through a varied path of experimental theater and singing, thanks also to some youth tours in Sub-Saharan Africa and the consequent discovery of extra-European cultures.

She collaborates with numerous musical ensembles, and carries out her own original research in the field of Mediterranean popular music, drawing inspiration from Balkan sounds, Portuguese fado, Greek rebetika music, Argentine tango and Roma music.

At the same time she has many experiences both as a theater actress and as a vocal-performer in shows and concerts of an experimental and improvisational nature.

She is often a guest on Radio Popolare and on Rai Radio Tre's Piazza Verdi program.

She is the creator of the character Nina Madù, who together with the band the Reliquie Commestibili has been appreciated in the independent field.

Camilla Barbarito, in this interview, takes us on unexpected musical wanderings on the trail of the water element, traveling among musicians she loves and her sound experiments with whale song and more.


Camilla Barbarito
00:00 / 03:06

There is little water in my life.
Your question has triggered a series of free associations and forced me to deal with the element of water which is certainly not very congenial to me.
I realized that there is a struggle, because everything I associate with popular sounds or at least with tradition, I associate with the element of earth and fire.
To telluric movements, to this formation, stratification, aridity which however lend themselves to detonations, explosions, crumbling.

Not surprisingly, with my dear students of the choir of women's voices in which I have been basking for many years, we often feel the need to use stone as an image.
The feeling is that of being a circle almost like in Stonehenge.   
Sometimes there is almost a brutality in popular music.
Of the heralds that hurl a message that is not existentialist, it is not personal.
It has a quality that goes beyond the self.
You become the vehicle of something that goes beyond your biographical self, your personal, private, individual story to go into a dimension that is beyond yourself. 

Very often I have had this image of the circle of stones in which all of them direct the jet with their voices.

A voice evidently not too polite.

A level, coarse voice.

Very strong in intention. 

This always makes me think of a dear person, the ethnomusicologist researcher Marius Schneider who, as I see it, has nothing of the academic.
In his way of describing music in its origins, I feel this referring to the voice as a fact that concerns everyone.
Especially when we sing together and we are not in a dimension of offering, but we are in hurling.
The dart, the voice thrown with this force that also has to do with aggression. 

But it is not a negative, harmful aggression.
It is a vital aggression.
That jolt of vitality that disturbs and excites in the popular world.
It excites the earth and the earth is fertile.
Like when you beat her with a very vigorous dance.

Pinuccio Sciola - Sounding Stones, the Memory of the Universe (2012)


All this makes me think very strongly of Pinuccio Sciola and his work, of the powerful intuition that this artist had.

Starting from stone, from this material of his land, Sardinia, he followed this vision by cutting stones of various types and sizes, and making a sonorous voice rise and emerge from the stone, which still contains something aquatic, memory. 

Camilla Barbarito
00:00 / 03:10

This question about water also made me think about how as a singer, eternally, the infinite search is precisely that of arriving at that the voice is something that gushes.
In this sense, the voice makes me think of water: precisely a fluid.
Even if it is the air that carries the sound.
But in the daily practice that has accompanied me for so many years, surely the image of gushing is there.
The voice that rises from the phonatory apparatus and almost digs its way, as does water, which creates space.
Hence the body that molds itself into this source of sound. 

I continued this thread of thinking and above all this experience of phonation came to mind.

Where does it come from?
Because without a doubt you have a source, a gush, that changes like water that changes its state.
But undoubtedly this force, which can also be destructive, in the case of the vocal emission has this softness, this roundness that water brings.

It's a very specific, very specific feeling. 
Also because it makes the rubberiness of the phonatory apparatus as if it were the mouth of a water reed that can be indefinitely produced in the most varied transformations. 

This theme always resonates with Marius Schneider, compared to how he identifies the birth of reality from a sound in many cosmogonies.
It is very mysterious to me.

But also terribly concrete.

Because actually it is something that also returns in the experience of the syllable, in the experience of the word, not in its meaning of sense, not in its logical meaning, but precisely in the experience of the word body.
This is a bit like my territory, where I compare myself every day.
In the emission there is the stumbling block of the consonants, which are all obstacles to this fluidity.
And the consonant becomes a percussion, it becomes an occasion of friction that interrupts this fluid. 
The flow of the vowel is clearly open and gushing and in between are these opportunities. 
I sing in many languages, also deal with idioms, realize how each language has a mysterious point and makes a different part of you live.

Camilla Barbarito - Voices of the seabed.


I was involved by the dancer Maria Carpaneto for a work called Istantanea on bo-we.

To create this sound place that for me was like a placenta, I started with the voices of whales and dolphins and on these I created small vocal overdubs. 

Camilla Barbarito
00:00 / 01:43

Moving to a completely different area, again because of my total schizophrenia, I think of this wonderful record by Stelvio Cipriani

One of my great passions are the soundtracks of Italian cinema, of the Italian cinema productions of the '70s.

Genre cinema, therefore absolutely B Movie .

They are fantastic musical productions, a compositional world that is mostly instrumental music, but there are also vocal presences.

Very dated, because they have an immediately recognizable sound even as a type of instrumentation.

But I am very fascinated by this world: these incredible instrumentalists, very close-knit, what was produced.

Also comes out my sense of horror at the loss of this wealth that was audio production in those years in Italian cinema.

Because some authors are cult in the world such as Morricone obviously, but I also think of others such as Trovajoli, Niccolai, Stelvio Cipriani in fact, many could be cited, Piccioni ...

This one, in particular, which I would very much like to introduce you to, is the wonderful soundtrack of a film called Tentacles which is precisely a work of Stelvio Cipriani.

Stelvio Cipriani - Happiness in having two keller whales as friends - Tentaocoli


Here you can hear well the moog which is this typical instrument of that era and which has this particularity of having almost infinite sound and timbre variations, creating a world of sways. 

Camilla Barbarito
00:00 / 02:36

This swaying makes me feel feelings of pleasure.
And it brings me back to popular music, as to all non-classical languages.
Because clearly cultured Western music has created a scale and the minimum distance between two notes is a semitone.
But I have a particular fondness, and I find it very close to the sensation of fluid and water , when you investigate, inspect, explore everything between one semitone and another.
In that interval there is an infinite possible number of intermediate sounds.
And this is very present in popular music, it is even encoded in Middle Eastern music, but it is present in popular music, in jazz, in all oral languages, which are not writable.
You can write, but you will always be very approximate, because the pronunciation of a sound cannot be recorded with canonical writing. 

I could also cite an example.

Once I was at a concert in Caprarola with Nabil Hamai, an Algerian violinist I collaborated with.

His father is a qanun player, I remember this concert where I was with this mestizo lineup where there are a balafon from Burkina Faso, Baba Djarra and Seydou Dao, griots  from Burkina Faso, and Carla Colombo who is a wonderful musician who has devoted herself to African sounds for a lifetime, and Nabil as a soloist.
I remember the moment of the concert in which he begins with an improvisation going on the strings of these typically Middle Eastern sounds, the so-called  macam, and begins to linger, with the extreme sensuality of this lingering between these typical passages.
I was so seduced, captivated by this lingering, right there between these notes.
Right in the body and pleasure area, which is clearly a mental pleasure.
When music pierces with sensations that are also physical.


Kaikomai Kaigomai, S.Xarhakos - Camilla Barbarito, voice, keys; Nabil Hamai, violin;  Fabio Marconi, acoustic guitar.

Camilla Barbarito
00:00 / 01:27

One of the artists I absolutely adore and kneel in the center of the room listening to vinyl is Francis Bebey, a wonderful artist.

Psychedelic Sanza are recordings made between '80 and '84.

Here it is the forest itself, a different, dripping wateriness.

He always over-recorded himself, starting from the sanza which is like a percussive instrument like the kalimba , a kind of African Robert Wyatt.

I love him because he is also an extremely particular, atypical figure, he is also very ironic, a bit of a narrator.

His productions, his albums, the things he has done are very different.

He was a very virtuoso classical guitarist, then guitar voice, but then he did electronics.

This Psychedelic Sanza for me is the very voice of this dripping, fertile, tumid forest. 


An incredible sound place, a journey.

Song Forest Nativity from Francis Bebey's album Mamaya


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