Tenores di Bitti

Tenores di Bitti are Sardinia's celebrated masters of traditional "tenores" singing, a tradition that dates back over a thousand years.

The Tenores do not use written music – this precious cultural/musical tradition is handed down orally from father to son. Their singing is characterised by the sounds of the natural landscape and the singers stand one in front of the other, forming a circle; their singing is a symbol of the strength, of the social cohesion, which is felt inside.

The city of Bitti in the region of Barbagia, Sardinia is known for its polyphonic singing, deemed one of the most expressive forms of singing; the highest peak of vocal art. On hearing the songs for the first time they can sound primitive and hard, like a voyage into a prehistoric age, when people imitated the sounds of nature. However, the four male voices one of which chants the main melody and the other three accompany it, in rhythmic pronunciation of syllables, achieve an unusual harmony and engaging, melodic sound.

The songs themselves are either profane poems speaking about the shepherds and their solitude in touch with nature, or religious songs referring to the popular world and its traditions.

Further reading

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan ‘Live at WOMAD 1985’ out today

Relive the magic of July 20th 1985, a pivotal performance for the legend of Qawwali music.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan at WOMAD 1985: Were you there?

Nusrat's concert at the festival in 1985 was the first in front of a primarily non-Asian audience

10 things you must check out at this year’s WOMAD Festival

We set you on the right track with ten great tips for this year's WOMAD Festival.

Real World at the British Library Sound Archive

The British Library Archive have been recording artists at the WOMAD Festival for over 30 years.