SIEF2013 11th Congress.
Alessandro Portelli: "Roma Forestiera": migrant music and social change in Rome

Video by: UTTV 03.07.2013 3032 views Cultural Science and Arts



A hit song of the 1940s, "Roma Forestiera" (Rome the foreigner, Rome,
the stranger, Rome the estranged) complained that music had disappeared from the streets and
neighborhoods of Rome, replaced by the newfangled American music promoted by the radio.
Over the last twenty years or so, music has come back to the urban space of Rome, brought
back precisely by the "foreigners" and the "foreigners" that are turning Italy, historically a country
of emigrants, into a country of immigrants as well. A project by the Circolo Gianni Bosio has been
collecting, archiving and promoting this "new urban folk music", focusing on specific spaces: the
street (and the subway and the buses); the home (family traditions, lullabies, etc.); the school (where
migrant music has often been adopted as part of the educational project); the community (including
celebrations and churches). The paper will discuss several examples of changes in the traditional
music that migrants brought with them; composition of new music by migrants; adoption of Italian
traditions; lived experiences of non-professional musicians and traditional singers. In conclusion, I
will suggest that music is a useful point of view for an understanding of the new multicultural reality
of the contemporary metropolis as well as of the meanings and forms of the migration experience.