A triple, polyphonic clarinet native to Sardinia, constructed out of a variety of cane that grows in the southern marshes around Cagliari. Launeddas feature two chanters for playing melody and chorus and a third tuned to the lowest note on the melodic chanters' scale. Musically, this creates an effect similar to the bagpipe though instead of a bag and blowpipe, launeddas players employ the method of circular breathing to sustain a non-stop melody and drone.
The launeddas are an ancient instrument; a bronze statue depicting a man playing a triple cane pipe unearthed in Sardinia has been dated between the eighth and ninth centuries BC. Similar reed pipes have been documented to exist at even earlier dates in Egypt and the Middle East, but all current evidence suggests that the Launeddas' triple configuration is unique to Sardinia.
In a pattern common throughout the world, the traditional music of Sardinia and the practice of making and playing Launeddas fought an uphill battle against the influences of radio, television, and even state repression. Yet, like many other folkways in modern nations, interest in the launeddas has increased. During the 1970s and 1980s, cultural associations and the few remaining maestros successfully waged a campaign to reintroduce Sardinians to their beloved instrument, a fitting symbol for an independent-minded and proud people.
- Launeddas Associazione Culturale, http://sardinia.net/sonus, (last verified 15 May 2002).
- Liner Notes (not attributed) for Second Grand Concert of Piping, Greentrax Recordings, Cockenzie, UK, 1997.
Launeddas Associazione Culturale Sonus de Canna: