This is the cantiga that never was, the one that, forever caught up in its own doing and undoing, can not quite define itself.

        In the IX century there lived a so-called Vitalis, of vague whereabouts, endowed with the gift of invisibility. Vitalis, lonely and broody, dedicated his life and very likely his death to the enormous task of multiplying himself.

        Mime by trade, he adopted a different character for each city he visited, living under that cover until he moved on, burying the character then and there.

        Many were the places Vitalis visited, many were the characters he buried, so many that, mingled in such a confusion of realities, no one knows where he buried himself.

        There are those were claim that Vitalis never interrupted the chance concurrence of his multiplications and, daring and smug, they track him down through History. They think they see him in sibilant, anonomous beings of diffuse beauty and methodical ambiguity. The following serve as an example:

        In the biographer of the troubadour Bl... who claimed that a person of merit must be measured by their capacity for song and gaiety and that music existed for expressing the unexpressable.

        In the figure of a roughly sketched troubadour who, while asleep on houseback, composed a poem about absolutely nothing.

        In the Jewish convert, daughter of a town crier from Valladolid, accused of being a witch for having recited 200 knighthood novels without batting an eye.

        In a certain mestizo of saracen soul and Saxon ancestors who said: “each time we play a melody it is as if we played all of time that has gone by since it began” and “music, like words, if not repeated, would disappear”.

        In an illiterate nun of the Rupersberg Monastery, famous for her audacious way of interpreting suspension marks.

        For more than three hundred years, Vitalis’ profile, scant, absent inasmuch as the eternnal, yet incomplete finity, is lost in a deep silence and completely illegible. Until the year 2,000, vast in a decrepitude of centuries, surfaces once again in Compostela, multiplied by seven under the name of Malandança, singing the miracle, that is, the mystery.

Charo Pita

                                                              Tarnslation: Keith Ammerman


        Malandança rises out of the farthest reaches of the land where the Way of Saint James comes to an end. And it rises up as an echo of music, word, flesh and stone.

        The members of Malandança understand medieval music as an area in which the interpretation and research are interdependent issues. Worthless is the one without the other.

        In the recent decades the interest for early music has allowed us to recover ancient musical styles that were believed lost. Thanks to contributions from many performers, musicologists and historians over the years, the break in the performing tradition of styles such as baroque music was partially saved.

        This process of bringing back to life a music style  (many different styles, in fact) involves several factors: at first, the original scores, with all the information coming straight from the composer; then writings, treatises, annotations, letters with reference to musical events or any news on how to make music , and the context were it was made. And, of course, the musical instruments wich, with its virtues and defects, are the great teachers of the performers.

        In the case of medieval music, the disruption in the tradition is very wide. Eight hundred years separates us from the “orchestra” in the “Pórtico de la Gloria”; during this time so meny things happened, so many artistic and bellicose events, so much light and so much fire, so it is difficult to twenty-first century humans to imagine the music Alfonso X heard in some festivity, or in his tent, after a battle, or the consolation brought to him by the music of  minstrel, laying sick in bed, hugging the book of The Miracles of Santa María.

        From the research made by the undersigned, alone and in the company of others, on the medieval instruments captured in stone in the “Pórtico de la Gloria” of the Catedral of Santiago de Compostelana, and in the Palace of Xelmírez, a world was open, not only of sonorous instruments, rather one of ideas and voices from what we thought of as the far-off Middle Ages. Faced with that mystical and architectural splendor, we can only recall the other splendor, invisible: the music.

        Taking these instruments as teachers, we have been able to reconstruct their interpretive technic, their expressive possibilities and their capacity for virtuosity, in short, the sonorous ideal of a refined Medieval court. The Cantigas of Alfonso X, written in Galician-Portuguese, fruit of a specific culture: the Middle Ages of the northwest of the Iberian peninsula, where they would find their way, thanks to the long road of Saint James, the troubadour traditions from all over the Christian world and where even echos of the nearby Islam would arrive, this would be the ideal music so that our voices and strings might sound.

         We united the troubadours’ music (who, imagining Paradise, invented love) to words (which created the world) and to images (which show us all). In this job Malandança played in festivals and concert halls were medieval music sounds: “Auditorio de Galicia”, “Festival de Música Antigua de Sajazarra”, “Festival Internacional en el Camino de Santiago”, “Festival de Música Antigua de La Laguna”…

        Following the program “Unha noite na Corte do rei Afonso” the band released a recording with the same title (ed. Clave Records) performing “Cantigas de Santa Maria” by the King Alfonso X "The Wise".

The Cantiga that never was

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