Here is the story of Corsican traditional music, with details of the groups and their recordings.

Corsican Traditional Music.


Polyphony | Religious ChantSecular SongLay BrotherhoodsTraditional InstrumentsConcertsLearning Polyphony

Corsican Music Websites.

CDs by Corsican Polyphony Artistes.

Other Corsican Recordings.

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Polyphony | Religious Chant | Secular Song | Lay Brotherhoods | Traditional Instruments

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A significant, though not the only aspect of Corsican traditional music is polyphony (many voices): unaccompanied (a capella) singing by small groups of three to eight or nine people. It is closely associated with the island's identity and its rebirth coincided with the resurgence (riaquistu) of national political ambition in the seventies. Thirty years on polyphony is widely celebrated as the country's cultural expression - more than any other art form.

Dorothy Carrington, doyenne of living Corsican chroniclers described singers of polyphony, who "...never... feel so united in their apartness, their insularity, as when performing this indigenous music inherited from their unremembered past. Fathers and sons and brothers and cousins stand or crouch in close formation, body to body, ear to ear, linked in the communion of singing with each other, with their race and with the hosts of their ancestors." Phew! "I had the impression of hearing a voice from the entrails of the earth. Song from the beginning of the world," she said after hearing singing one Christmas eve in a chapel in the Fiumorbu.

The origins of Corsican polyphony are much disputed and since until recently they have been undocumented, no clear evidence exists of its source. Though I'm no musician, I sense it as inheriting a bit of everything Mediterranean from the north, south, east and west. Friends often ask about the Arab influence.

Traditional Corsican polyphony, following its revival in the 1970s, is now a central part of the expression of Corsican culture. There are those who stress its political importance, while others insist more on the music in its own right. There were those who recorded old people singing time-honoured aurally transmitted chants and others who started writing what can be described as political songs. In any event, the fact that polyphony has taken a central place in community life is a natural process, similar to the process of identity seeking in many other cultures.

Groups now form spontaneously, both for the pleasure of singing and frequently without a view to public performance. It is estimated that there are about 80 groups active in Corsica presently. The method of a capella singing is based on three parts, whose fourth part - the voice of the angels - appears magically from nowhere and everywhere. The lead is given by the secunda, the ornamentation is provided by the terza, the highest of the trio - and then there is the bassu. Many different types of song use the style, both sacred and profane. Examples of the first include masses for the living and the dead and of the latter the paghjella (traditional and modern poetic songs), the madrigale (of Renaissance Italian derivation) and the nanna (lullaby).

There is a very nice page of Carole Guelfucci in English on Corsican Polyphony.  And there's a great new book about Corsica's traditional music by Caroline Bithell called Transported by Song: Corsican Voices from Oral Tradition to World Stage (Europea) .

This page: Introduction / Polyphony / Religious Chant / Secular Song / Lay Brotherhoods / Traditional Instruments / Concerts / Learning Polyphony / Corsican Music Websites / CDs by Corsican Polyphony Artistes / Other Corsican Recordings

Religious Chant

The sacred use of polyphony is particularly associated with death, funerals and mourning, which are still deeply celebrated in Corsica. There are those who may find this aspect of Corsican traditional music somewhat morbid and sad, but at the same time there is the eternal expression of hope in funerary singing (lamentu). The lamentu is also used, naturally enough, in Holy Week.

Polyphony is much used in the Christan mass and there are many traditional polyphonic mass chants. Since the revival of polyphony, modern polyphonic masses have been written. Jean-Claude Acquaviva of A Filetta has written one, as yet to be used.

Sacred polyphony is frequently sung by groups in concert performances. You are unlikely to hear a traditional concert without a dies irae, miserere or a kyrie. The national anthem, Dio vi Salve Regina - hymn to the Virgin Mary - is frequently sung at the end of concerts, with visitors struck by its force, but without recognising its significance.

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Secular Song

The paghjella is often (wrongly) seen as synonymous with polyphony. It is a profane song form that is applied to seduction, satire, lamentation or other strong emotions. Generally without the kind of popularly expressed notion of rhythm, polyphony is often referred to as the song of a free people. It has, nonetheless, its own special 'periodical accent and duration of notes'. The secunda generally starts the song alone, before the entry of the bassu and the terza. Of course, as with most things Corsican, that said, there are many variants, typically by micro-region.

Within the paghjella form, the interpretation of each song is open to a fair amount of improvisation by different groups or individual singers, who may make extensive use of the ribucatta - a free form of ornamentation with vibrato, which creates a slight time-lag with the other singers. The paghjella was often used to accompany work, at family or village gatherings and thus might interpolate esoteric verbal improvisation.

Traditionally polyphony was sung by men, though there was the cuntrastu, which included male and female voices. Women sang, but generally solo, for example the voceru sung exclusively by women at the deathbed. Nanne were also generally, but not exclusively, sung by women. Nowadays women are singing polyphony and sometimes in mixed groups. As in many other cultures, there were also children's songs for counting (filastrocca), fables (fola) or the recasting of history (stalbotoghju).

There are many monody songs, which were sung at work and associated with specific activities, such as threshing (cantu di a tribbiera), one of which is on the Voce di Corsica CD listed below. Traditional threshing was a ritualised and slow process carried out on a round granite paved area (aghja), generally exposed to the wind to carry away the chaff. Incidentally, the beautiful monuments to past labours can still be seen all over the countryside and indeed quite high into the mountains. The work was carried out with flails or using the feet of oxen, donkeys or mules. Men would often spend the night on site to take advantage of any wind that might blow.

The songs to celebrate the ritual might also be dedicated to St Martin, patron saint of abundance. Such songs were in current use well after the Second War and hence have been captured on tape (Felix Quilici, the musicologist, taped one as late as 1962).

Lay Brotherhoods

As well as groups who entertain, polyphony is also sung by many of the cunfraternita - the lay brotherhoods, dating from the middle ages - C12 or so - that were established to provide social services as well as chanted religious ritual. They organise the processions for important days in the Christian calendar, provide church music for masses, especially for funeral services and saints' and feast days. Processional songs (canti di a procezzione) form part of Christian ceremonies, but frequently incorporate pagan ritual as well.

Some brotherhoods played a more significant social roles in terms of poor relief, for example. In Calvi the brothers cultivated a garden for produce which they distributed among the needy.

A large number of these brotherhoods still exist and sing. Frequently members of the brotherhoods will also participate in performance groups and frequently the latter will sing at religious services, especially at the funerals of friends and family. The cunfraternita each have a chapel which serves as their 'headquarters'. These buildings, separate from but generally close to churches, were often constructed with acoustics particularly appropriate to a capella singing. They were banned in 1790 and reappeared in th C19, though some managed to persist.

There are two sites you can visit to find out more about the brotherhoods. Two are in the Castagniccia and the third in the adjacent Casinca. There is a good description at the site of the Brotherhood of the Blessed Crucifixion from Moita - and their singing is magnificent. The village site of Vescavato has a nice little section on their Confraternity the Brotherhood of Sacred Cross.

In recent years musicologists have unearthed a limited amount of written chants, largely inscribed by Franciscans. However, in the oral culture and tradition of Corsica, most polyphony is passed down from mouth to ear.

This page: Introduction / Polyphony / Religious Chant / Secular Song / Lay Brotherhoods / Traditional Instruments / Concerts / Learning Polyphony / Corsican Music Websites / CDs by Corsican Polyphony Artistes / Other Corsican Recordings

Traditional instruments

Corsica has traditional wind, string and percussion instruments, which are similar and different to those of many other parts of the Mediterranean. Groups that use traditional instrument include A Cumpagnia (a group of musicians based in the artists' village of Pigna), A Filetta, Tavagna and Caramusa ( - a group of researchers and artists, who play traditional Corsican instruments (from whom the following information is gleaned) Click here if you'd like to hear extracts of their records and even buy one.. The mandoline is seeing a comeback in Corsica as elsewhere, and is used for traditional as well as classical and modern music. A Corsican mandoline player, you may be able to hear in Corsica, especially in the Balagne, is Ange Lanzalavi (and his trio); don't miss them!

The caramusa is a bagpipe made of reed, wood and leather.

The cetera - a cithern or cittern - is a lute like instrument of Tuscan origin with 16 strings (eight chords). If you're interested in buying a cetera, then you should visit Ugo Casalonga - he's based in the artists' village of Pigna. Following a request from the musician Alan Mannerini, Ugo has recently produced a 'cetera guitara' a cross between a cetera and a guitar with the shape of a cetera and the stem of a guitar, allowing alternate use of nylon strings and doubled metal ones. You can hear one of Ugo's cetreas being played by Roland Ferrandi at (a very good site by the way - you'll enjoy a visit for its own sake). It's on a section about the cistre (the French for cetera) - in the English version of his site as well. He has just issued a new record called, simply 'Cetera' and you can hear an extract at his site.TheCD is a bit difficult to find, but you can get it from SCPMusic. Roland is based in Marseille, but spends a lot of time in Corsica (and records here). His cousin, Jean-Bernard Rongiconi, is the guitarist of I Muvrini. Roland plays the lute in several groups including the Corsican a Murella. Another luthier - lute-maker is Christian Magdeleine in Bastia. And another is Bernard Camurat in Renno and he specialises in violins (tel 04 95 24 53 83). There are more and more people playing the cetera these days; Ceccè Brunini plays with Diana di l'Alba, Michele Raffaeili is another. Other groups including cetera instrumentals are I Cantelli, L'Alba & Dopu Cena. Bernard Pazzoni, the muicologue at the Phonothèque of the Musée de Corse at Corte is collecting instruments;he is of the opinion that the instrument originated in Afganistan and arrived in Corsica in the seventeenth centuryvia Tuscany. Boswell refers to its use in the villages during his tour.

The cialamedda (north) or cialamella/cialambella (south) originally a reed instrument, later with a fig/olive/box wood body.

The mandulina, or mandolin.

The pirula, a reed recorder. If you'd like to see one, click here.

The pifana or pivana is a sweet-sounding fife or recorder like instrument, generally made from a goat horn and is made in many keys.

The riberbula, a kind of Jew's harp, the origins of which go back to post Iron Age.

The sunaglieri, mule bells.

The timpanu a triangle.

The tromba (peculiar to the Casinca & Castagniccia, chestnet regions) was a strip chestnut bark rolled in a spiral to which was added a reed (or raganetta, cut from a fresh stem of chestnut thinned at one end and pinched between the lips to make a sort of reed)

The urganettu a diatonic accordion.

The zampugna, the horn of goat, cow or bull set with a reed.

Raoul Robecchi ( is an Italo-Corsican composer who uses traditional Mediterranean instruments (not just Corsican ones) and electronics - very interesting. There are samples to hear. Incidentally, if you are interested in knowing more about the cetera, there's an excellent description of it in the instruments section on his site.

You can listen to Corsican fiddling at the site of the association Tutti in Piazza ( , based in Sermanu, high above the Tavignano river to the east of Corte, the ancient capital. They specialise in violin (viulinu - the soul of the viulinu is known as a cascia) and traditional dancing and they organise an annual festival of fiddling and dancing. It's good fun, as I can testify. The band of Tutti in Piazza is called Punta é Taccu, which means 'toes & heels' to indicate the dance steps. Festi Ballu in Corte is their annual 3-day festival - the dates are always posted on their site; it generally includes folk music groups from other countries as well as opportunities to learn, concerts and balls.


Many people ask me where they can here Corsican music when they visit the island. There are many opportunities and you will see the dates and venues postered. Now there is a website (not yet quite perfected, but an advance nonetheless) of the Outil technique de conseil et développement culturel de la Corse - or development office for culture. However, they also publish an annual publication that may help. It has tours (mainly in Corsica, but also abroad) of groups and individual artistes. It's called A Canzona in Giru - and covers the summer concerts. There is also the Guide des Manifestations Culturelles (two a year) that covers music, dance, theatre, photography, exhibitions etc. You can get a copy of either or both by sending an email to or from tourist offices.

There are many Cultural Festivals in Corsica. They frequently include concerts by Corsican groups. Watch for posters, ask in tourist offices or the place where you are staying. Or, you can download my list for free. I show websites where they exist and as many contact numbers that I have been able to ascertain. The list is arranged by date. Get a copy by clicking here. You will need the Acrobat Reader program , which you can download also for free, if you don't have it.

Learning Polyphony

Polyphony workshops are run between September to May by the Corse Musique association in Bastia (you can email Chrisophe Secchi). The workshops include:

- learning various Latin and Corsican texts
- learning voice parts ( secunda, bassu, terza)
- putting the parts together and practicing
- skill development with a member of the Confrèrie of Ville di Pietrabugno.

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This page: Introduction / Polyphony / Religious Chant / Secular Song / Lay Brotherhoods / Traditional Instruments / Concerts / Learning Polyphony / Corsican Music Websites / CDs by Corsican Polyphony Artistes / Other Corsican Recordings

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Corsican Music Websites.

Progressively, the main groups are setting up websites, but in an oral culture, this habit is far from widespread. Here are some that I value:

I Muvrini ( - one of the leading Corsican music groups, originally singers of a capella polyphony. The father of the leader, Bernardini was one of the first to reawaken interest in Corsican polyphony and was a great singer himself. Their programme is more eclectic now, but notwithstanding the electronics, is still quintessentially Corsican.Widely known on the world music scene, they have recently been accompanied by Sting. One of the two Corsican groups that live by their work (the other is A Filetta), they have remained firmly anchored in the Corsican cultural setting. They tour Corsica each summer, often playing in small villages and out of the way places. The members of the group all have their own special place in the life of Corsica. Muvrini means little moufflons (ovis gmelini), wild sheep, unique to Corsica - and Sardinia. Nino de Sonneville, a Dutch fan of the group has set up a site called Terra Corsa, dedicated to them - it's very good and has some song translations into English. A Belgian fan, Annie Legrève, has an Muvrini site, as well.

Canta u Populu Corsu ( - this is the group that many say was key to the revival of traditional Corsican singing in the 1970s: they were established in 1972. Many present-day groups can trace their origin to Canta. The name means: the Corsican people sing. Founded in 1976, Canta are the 'reference' group of Corsican polyphony and have remained true to tradition, though its membership has changed over the years. They were founded during the riacquistu (literally the reacquisition - of the language and song of Corsica) in the 1970s. One of the founders, Jean-Paul Poletti, now runs a polyphonic singing school in Sartène. They organise a small annual festival in the Castagniccia - Settembrinu. There are other Corsican bands on this site. Jacques Fusina has written (with others) a book about them: Canta U Populu Corsu (1993). They are working on their tenth CD to evoke all that is Corsican and especially the events of the last ten years. Sadly a key member died in a road accident in 2003 - Natale Luciani.

I Chjami Aghjalesi ( - formed 20 years ago, issue of Canta, they also have sung with the E Due Patrize, who became part of the NPC. Open to other influences, they have remained strongly anchored in the Corsican polyphony tradition. While group members have other jobs (cabinet making, teaching, firemen...) they remain open to influence and are politically inspired, culturally committed and professionally oriented. They are based in Bastia (at the bar Chez Mimi in the Place d'Armes - more than 50 people have participated over the years.

Laude ( - the Brotherhood of the Blessed Crucifixion of Serra in the Castagniccia village of Moita has existed since 992 and their singing is pure polyphony. There are extracts of many of their sacred chants on the site as well as a description of the history and role of brotherhoods in Corsica. They are groups of laymen associated with the church, who sang for services and festivals as well as doing social work.

Moita ( - this is a village site, but a large part of it is devoted to song. There are text of local songs that have been collected and an excellent description of polyphony (in French of course), but written by passionate practitioners.

Learn to sing polyphony ( - an excellent site set up by the lycée in Ile Rousse in the Balagne. It covers several subjects and has a section that gives lessons in polyphony. Normally learned aurally from established singers, polyphony is difficult to teach by other methods, but this is a devoted effort. There are examples of lamenti, madrigale and paghjella under their 'Profane' heading and examples of chants from the messe des vivants and the messe des morts under their 'sacrée' heading.

Voce di Corsica ( - another of the well-known traditional groups, on whose site you can listen to their singing.

A Ricuccata ( - this polyphony group is from Santa Maria Poghju near Cervione in the SE Castagniccia. They run singing workshops, among other activities.

U Fiatu Muntese ( - a young group from the Balagne, a region that has developed as a strong spawning ground for Corsican groups, not least through the encouragement and training of A Filetta. Fiatu sometimes use guitar accompaniment and they won a big national prize in 1998.

Digamusic ( - this is an inventory of 5800 Corsican songs (polyphony and other)- quite a labour by Ronald & Bernadette Gazzola! There are also extracts (with permission) on MP3.

Roland Ferrandi ( - this is a very good and comprehensive site by Roland Ferrandi a cetera player and accomplished musician; it has lots of good descriptive material.

Dominique Ottavi ( - Dominique Ottavi is a Corsican singer, musician and story-teller. On his record Chants, Légendes et Cetera he sings as well as playing the cetera, ceterina, pirula and percussion. He is accompanied by the two Casalonga brothers from Pigna - Jérôme (voice, percussion and recorders) and Ugo on cetera (he makes them too).

Corse Musique ( - this excellent site treats not only traditional Corsican music, but also Corsican pop, live music in Corsican bars & cafés,recording studios and has links to DJ's. Its webmaster, Christophe Secchi, also offers a piece of software to tune your instrument ( They aim soon to develop the site considerably, adding Corsican, English and Italian versions.

Passione ( - perhaps not straight polyphony, but then they are not easily classified in any genre, given that some of the members also form Corsican Vibes (Corsican/electronic music). They seek to marry traditional Corsican music with modern creations. Two members have sung with Voci di a Gravona. Jean-Louis Blaineau is the composer/arranger.

I Surghenti - ( - five young musicians and singers with a varied repertoire and like A Filetta, they make film music (in 2001, the film Mon Père).

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This page: Introduction / Polyphony / Religious Chant / Secular Song / Lay Brotherhoods / Traditional Instruments / Concerts / Learning Polyphony / Corsican Music Websites / CDs by Corsican Polyphony Artistes / Other Corsican Recordings

CDs by Corsican Polyphony Artistes.

A CumpagniaL'Alba | A Filetta | Alte VoceL'Arcusgi | Barbara Furtuna | I Campagnoli | Canta U Populu CorsuU Celu | Mighela Cesari | I Chjami AghjalesiCinque Sò | Jacques Culioli | Diana di l'Alba | Donnisulana | Petru Guelfucci | IsulatineI Mantini | Jacky Michaelli | I Muvrini | Les Nouvelles Polyphonies CorsesJean-Paul Poletti | Santavuglia | Tavagna | Tempus Fugit | Voce di Corsica | U Fiatu Muntese

Here is a selection of Corsican recorded music. Some of these artistes, like Petru Guelfucci and I Muvrini, the purists will tell you are not strictly polyphonic groups, at least not any more, since they don't sing a capella traditional Corsican polyphony. It's true, but the roots of these groups are all strictly in Corsican polyphony, notwithstanding their musical evolvement. Those who do not inovate and develop their singing are likely to leave Corsican polyphony as a museum piece. A Filetta, for instance have written new polyphony and worked extensively with Bruno Coulais, the French fiml music composer, but that does not change their fundamental inging style.

The list of singers and groups below is by no means complete and new groups are being formed all the time. there are also many groups that formthemselves ad hoc or from the village brotherhoods. You are also likely to find that groups of young men will set to singing Corsican polyphony sponateously and not with any intenetion of formally stting up a regular group.

People often have trouble getting CDs of Corsican music, once they return home, but nothing could be easier at, my partner. If you are anxious about ordering CDs from a French language site, don't be! By clicking the links I have provided, you can hear samples of the discs and then proceed to order the CDs yourself. In some cases, the link may show compilations in which the artiste appears and therefore you may need to scroll don to CDs of the artiste alone.

To make it easier, if you don't know what group you want, here is a CD search box for Corsican music(or any other, for that mater).

If you want to listen to the extracts, you will need real player.

There is more and more recorded polyphony available, though often produced by small labels without world distribution. Some 200 000 albums are being sold a year at the current time.

A very interesting way into Corsican polyphony would be to buy my friend Philippe-Jean Catinchi's short book, Polyphonies Corses. Not only does this Corsican Le Monde journalist love the subject and have a wide knowledge of it, but included in the book is a CD with 22 tracks, including many of the artists below, as well as achieve material. Even if your French is not of a high standard, the book costs less than many individual CDs - so it's worth it for that alone!

Many Corsican groups run polyphony workshops, but if you are anglophone, you may be interested in a polyphony workshop, run by members of Village Harmony which is an umbrella for a range of choral music, world music and harmony singing activities. The Village Harmony Summer Camp in Corsica takes place in 2006 between June 8-July 1 and will be led by Frank Kane, Benoît Sarrochi and Patty Cuyler. Their main areas of expertise and interest are traditional polyphonic singing styles and community singing traditions, such as Corsican music. The workshops are based in a sixteenth-century convent (newly converted for use as a gîtes called I Fioretti) at Canari in western Cap Corse.

manghja pane e noce, senterai bella voce - eat bread and nuts, you'll have a fine voice


They are a group of young polyphony singers from the Balagne - they were formed in 1992 in the Balagne with support and training from A Filetta and A Cumpagnia. Their first record is I Soli Ciuttati. They were selected to represent Corsica in the national festival Les Printemps de Bourges - 2001 edition.

Click here for the Alba CD.

Alte Voce

Only a couple of years old, this group thirteen singers and musicians, led by Jean Mattei (who originally set up the Isula Bella group), appear on stage as six men and one woman. They are firmly anchored in the Corsican tradition and include their own compositions in their repertoire. They present their music in French 'so that everyone can understand' what they're singing about, but they aim to revive ancient melodies and traditional song forms.

Click here for Alte Voce CDs.


Arcusgi have 9 singers and 6 musicians. They were established in 1985 by young people from the Bastia area. The group's name is taken from the small harquebus (!), an early portable gun on a tripod, used by Pasquale Paoli's troops in the C17. From this you an tell that they are politcally engaged, singing of daily life and history of the Corsican people. They are always integrating other musical styles from other cultures. You can hear them round the island in the summer.

Click here for Arcusgi CDs.

Barbara Furtuna

Barbara Furtuna are four singers of polyphony and a guitarist from the Nebbiu. Each had previous group membership in such well known formations as A Filetta or the Novelles Polyphonies Corses.

Click here for Barbara Furtuna CDs.

I Campagnoli

This is one of a number of groups this one established in 1969) who are now concentrating on polyphony, but includes instrumental music (pivana, cialamella etc) as well. The members originate from the villages of the Nebbiu (west of Bastia) and Bastia. They have two repertoires - polyphony or mixed. Their 1999 CD is called Canti Suminatti.

Click here for Campagnoli's CD.

Canta u Populu Corsu

Canta is the living legend of Corsican polyphony, have been established at the beginning of the so-called Reaquistu in the 70s. They have continued to be militants for Corsican culture and have steadfastly resisted commercial pressures, preserving there independence. Their latest CD is a double album - i tren'anni - to celebrate their 30 years and is a recording of their 2003 Corsican tour.

Anna Rocchi who sings with them has launched a solo career. Her first CD Da l'Alturaghja is available in Corsica; I really like it. She sings a capella and with instruments (cetera, mandoline and percussion).

Click here for Canta CDs.

U Celu

This group hails from Felicetu in the Balagne and is led by Dédé Nobili, who was one of the founders of A Filetta and also sang with I Chjami Aghjalesi; he is both singer and the librettist. His themes include love, the mountains, the village and the Mediterranean. Music is by Toni Thomas. Their second record is out: Sicondu l'Estru, produced by themselves, so only available (at present) in Corsica (you can contact them by email).

Mighela Cesari

I have included this chanteuse of monody in this list even though her music is not polyphony, her music is deeply Corsican and accompanied by Corsican instruments. Her traditional Corsican songs have been collected by those such as the anglo-corsican Edith Southwell-Colucci, the key polyphony-ethnologue Felix Quilici as well as by Migheli.

U Cantu Prufondu - the songs vary from a lament for Spada the last Corsican bandit to be executed (in 1935) to a song in the form of a dialogue between a seducing knight and a beautiful girl, apparently a shepherdess.

Click here for Mighela Cesari CDs.

I Chjami Aghjalesi

This long running group of seven voices is one of Corsica's favourites. For more information, see above. The twenty years of the group are retraced in their latest album I vinti cinqui baroni.

Click here for Chjami Aghalesi CDs.

Cinqui Sò

My purist friends are unkind about this polyphony group, but I like them and think that have some interesting variations on tradition. The latest title is Circà Vita (In Search of Life).

Click here for Cinqui Sò CDs.

Jacques Culioli

Jacques Culioli is a singer bathed in Corsican tradition. He is the grandson of Ghjuvan Andria Culioli, an iconic figure in Corsican poetry and music. Like his grandfather he comes from Chera (near Figari). His songs are inspired by the stories and traditions of Corsica. His most popular CD is Eternaisula.

Click here for Jacques Culioli CDs.

A Cumpagnia

This is a long established group from Pigna in the Balagne, who form part of the artist's colony in that village. They are an integral part of the annual festival Festivoce. The group includes singers and musicians, men and women and their repertoire includes sacred and profane, ancient and nely created music.

Click here for A Cumpagnia CDs.

Diana di l'Alba

Diana di l'Alba is a group of singers first together in 1978 and re-formed by the leader Antoine Marielli in 1994 - you may well encounter them in summer concerts in Corsica, though not well known outside. They are growing in popularity. All nine members keep their day jobs and do their own 'roadie' work. Their fifth (lively) record came out in 2004 (Donna Dea). Their singing is accompanied by traditional and other instruments. They have established a music school (Scola di u Populu) which functions through the winter in Bastia.

Click here for Diana di l'Alba CDs.

u mondu ghjè un mare di lacrime - the world is an ocean of tears


Donnisulana was probably the first well-known women's group singing Corsican polyphony publicly. They have now broken up, but are well remembered. They combined the image of the island with that of womanhood. They did not attempt simply to copy their brethren, but to interpret traditional songs in their own special way. There are new women's groups emerging now - many of them inspired by the pioneering work of Donnisulana.

Jacky Micaelli, the then leader of the group has continued to sing on her own and with others.  

Per Agata 1992 - this was recorded in memory of a lamented founder member of the group - Paghjella per Agata was written in her memory. There are other contemporary tracks as well as traditional sacred music. Most embody the sad hopefulness of Corsican singing. Donnisulana 1992 - their first record.

Click here for Donnisulana CDs.

U Fiatu Muntese

This young group from the Balagne was established in 1994 and have recently produced their first record. They sing both polyphony and songs. They have been invited to be the first group to sing at concerts of I Muvrini and other groups. Parlu U Core was their first disc in 2000.

Click here for Fiatu Muntese CD.

A Filetta

Their name means 'bracken' and they are a group now composed of 6 regular singers. Formed more in 1978 - they sing a variety of traditional sacred and profane material, their own compositions and recently the music of for several films. They are co-organisers of the annual Rencontres de Chants Polyphoniques in Calvi - a wonderful world music (song) festival, which you will find each year described on Corsica Isula in the run up to mid-September when it takes place. A Filetta is one of the only two groups that are professional, in the sense of their singing being their livelihood. The other is I Muvrini.

Una tarra ci hè (1994) - a disc of songs composed by the group's leader Jean-Claude Acquaviva and most of the lyrics by the composer or his poet brother, Marcel - still a bestseller. A Passione (1997) - is the music written for the Passion Play performed in Calvi for several years. Moving stuff, with some instrumental bits (a Corsican bestseller). Ab eternu (1998) - the past in the present and the present in the past: most of the tracks are traditional sacred music, with some creations.

Himalaya (1999) - is the Bruno Coulais composed sound track of the film of the same name - it's the story of generations of yak herders.. A blend of Tibetan chant and Western music sung with Corsicans (a Corsican bestseller). The film Himalaya, by the way, is quite outstanding and was nominated for an Oscar in 2000. If you'd like a DVD of it or more details, click here. Even better go to the outstanding site of the film at There you can not only hear extracts of the film music including A Filetta, but read about the background and making of the film as well as seeking video clips.

Le Peuple Migrateur is A Filetta's latest collaboration with the composer Bruno Coulais - it's music for the new Jacques Perrin film on the life of birds. Amazing sounds. There are tracks by Nick Cave and Robert Wyatt, as well as a Bulgarian choir.

A Filetta's Intantu - 'for the time being', is so named because they have many other projects in the pipeline, including their latest CD that is of songs orchestrated by Bruno Coulais, a CD of their music for Medea and a new mass. Intantu was released by Virgin in April 2002. For details of concerts, contact their manager, Valerie Salducci). A DVD devoted to A Filetta is now out - A Filetta - Voix Corses - it has songs, interviews and is a very good introduction to Corsican polyphony.

Sì di Mè is their 2003 album of songs orchestrated by Bruno Coulais, with various invited singers. All but two tracks are composed by Jean-Claude Aquaviva.

Their latest work is a requiem Di Corsica Riposu that is not yet recorded, but they have started singing it in concerts in Corsica and abroad.

Click here for A Filetta CDs.


This is a new group (2006) led by Roland Ferrandi, the guitarist and cetera player, with the young Catherine Pacheu (an alto) and Jean-Pierre Giorgetti (he's the founder and leader of the Vuciata group). Jean-Pierre, also a composer, founded the Scola di Cantu in Paghjella in 2003 - for the teaching of Corsican polyphony.

Petru Guelfucci

Petru Guelfucci has been singing for many years and was a founder member of Canta U Populu Corsu. His group still sing polyphony, though most of their music is a 'modern' derivative using electronics and instrumental support. His band has had a significant success in Quebec.

Click here for Petru Guelfucci CDs.

Isulatine - u cantu di e donne

Isulatine is a relatively new women's polyphony group: Antoinette d'Angeli, Elizabeth Andreani and Laetizia Guiuntini began to sing together earlier in another group, Anghjula Dea. They started working together in 1998 and sing traditional Corsican polyphony, new creations with words by Paul Parigi. Valuing the Corsican language, they would like to do progressively more their own creations. Their first CD is Sogni d'Aprile. The next CD is due in 2007. If you want to contact them, you can write to cantisulatine @

I Mantini

Two singers from Bastia, who sing their own creations as well as those of other groups (

Click here for I Mantini CDs.

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This page: Introduction / Polyphony / Religious Chant / Secular Song / Lay Brotherhoods / Traditional Instruments / Concerts / Learning Polyphony / Corsican Music Websites / CDs by Corsican Polyphony Artistes / Other Corsican Recordings

Jacky Micaelli

Jacky Michaelli is a deeply moving singer - a passionate Corsican - and one of few woman artists. She was a founder member of Donnisulana. Women have traditionally been singers in Corsica, solo. They had specific roles likes singing outpourings of grief at funerals - voceru - and quite naturally, cradle songs. She now not only sings alone, but also works with an eclectic range of other artists. This extraordinary voice has been described as the spirit of Corsica. She sings traditional and sacred Corsican songs and also blues. Her website is Amor'esca was recorded with musicians in 2002.

On her CD is Fiamma, where she has joined with two other voices: Jean-Etienne and Marie Langiani. Although arranged by necessity, these songs are from ancient Corsican Franciscan manuscripts and were recorded at the Corbara Monastery in Balagne.

Corsica Sacra - sacred songs of Corsica. These traditional songs are hauntingly sorrowful, like the Lament for Jesus from Easter week, or searing celebrations, like the Sanctus from the mass for the dead, or the evocative Corsican national anthem Dio Vi Salvi Regina to the glory of the Virgin Mary (a Corsican bestseller).

Her newest CD is called Ti Ricordi and it's a kind of anthology of ancient and contemporary Corsican songs.

Click here for Jacky Micaelli CDs.

I Muvrini

The group led by Jean-François Bernardini, is a direct inheritor of the orally transmitted singing tradition. His father was a singer too and was in forefront of the revival of Corsican polyphony. Jean-François and his brother Alain started singing at the fairs of the Niolu and Restonica at the age of 10. The group's style is essentially Corsican with a modern interpretation and all the electronic paraphernalia. They are perhaps the widest known Corsican group.

A Bercy was recorded live at a major Paris concert in 2000. Curagiu also came out in 2000 isfor the most part, J-F Bernardini compositions and lyrics by him also - on themes close to the hearts of Corsicans, love, departure, mother, the land... A Strada is a record similar in style to Curagiu. Leia includes one title - Terre D'Oru (Fields of Gold) - sung with Sting (a Corsican bestseller).

When you are in Corsica, look out for their earlier work. There are many wonderful CDs and cassettes, like E Più Belle.(1990). They have also produced several videos. Their latest CD is Umani. The book that accompanies it is also called Umani.

They are campaigners for Corsica and have established an association that aims to raise enough funds to gain the status of a Foundation (nearly 800 thousand euros required) so that they can give financial support to individuals or collectives in fields that will advance the wellbeing of Corsica.

The 2005 line up of I Muvrini has changed and includes several new musicians including a super young violinist. The new CD is out at the end of September - Alma.

Josephina Fernandez who used to be a singer with Muvrini for some years has released her first solo album - recorded in Corsica at Studio l'Angelina in the Valle di Rustinu. It's called Caminando, but is not widely available outside Corsica yet.

Click here for I Muvrini CDs.

a speranza, prima chi nasce, ultima chi more - hope is the first to be born, the last to die

Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses

The NPC, as they are generally known, are a mixed group of men and women singers, formed in 1989. The three women members have formed their own group Soledonna, while remaining part of the NPC. As Soledonna, in 2000 they produced a new concert in company of the men's group A Filetta.

Click here for Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses CDs.

Jean-Paul Poletti

Jean-Paul Poletti founded his Choeur d'Hommes de Sartène (seven voices) in 1995, having been one of the founders of Canta. He has also established a school of polyphony in Sartène. He considers his musical work to be the purest of traditional Corsican polyphony. Their latest CD is called Canti di a terra.

Click here for Jean-Paul Poletti CDs.


This female group is a relatively recent formation and sings Corsican polyphony.

Click here for Santavuglia CDs.


This is a group, established in 1980, from the north east of Corsica - their name is that of their pieve (an administrative group of parishes), which includes Talasani, Pero-Casevecchie, Pruno, Velone-Orneto, Poggio-Mezzana. The singers are members of the Tavagna Club which was formed as a social and cultural association concerned with the revitalisation of their microregion. Their music is of a very high quality, though the singers have remained amateur in status. Each September they organise Settimbrinu diTavagna - a festival of Corsican polyphony.

Click here for Tavagna CDs.

Tempus Fugit

They are a group of six singers who have been singing serious polyphony for a while and their repertoire includes both sacred and profane songs, very largely from Corsica (there are extracts on the site). I recommend them! They have a new CD out - Nebbiu, Canti sacri di Corsica. This new recording further enhances their reputation and includes sacred chant from as early as the 7th century. Benoît Flori, the bass singer says, "More than just a vestige from the past, this chants are an integral part of our identity, an undoubted voiceprint of the most profound kind..." The CD appears on the Long Distance label of world music, distributed by Harmoni Mundi.(

Click here for Tempus Fugit CDs.

Voce di Corsica

The group was formed in 1990 by six male singers from the interior of the island and they sing both sacred and profane music. Polyphonies produced in 1993 includes different song types including lamentu (about exile, misfortune...), madrigale (poetic songs), terzetti (based on troubadors songs from Tuscany of the middle ages).

Click here for Voce di Corsica CDs.

This list of Corsican music is but a small proportion of those that are available, but it tries to give you an easy way in, if you don't know your way around. You can click here for a list of Corsican music on CD that you can acquire at - or simply listen to some extracts.

This page: Introduction / Polyphony / Religious Chant / Secular Song / Lay Brotherhoods / Traditional Instruments / Concerts / Learning Polyphony / Corsican Music Websites / CDs by Corsican Polyphony Artistes / Other Corsican Recordings

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Other Corsican Recordings.

Ricordu - the Corsican record producer

The Ricordu studio was founded over 25 years ago and many groups have recorded there. You can find compilations of their recordings at their site. In the polyphony category their current list includes Cinque Sò, Diana di l'Alba, Fiatu Muntese, I Surghjenti, Mighela Cersari and Voci di a Gravona. In their Chansons Corses catalogue, you'll find, among others: Canta u Populu Corsu, Caramusa, Feli, I Chjami Aghalesi, I Mantini, I Messageri, I Muvrini, Jean-Paul Poletti and Petru Guelfucci. So, you see, there is some confusion with nomenclature. Perhaps Corsican groups defy categorisation - like the rest of Corsica.

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