Biagio Panico was born on the 17/04/1963 in Andrano, Lecce, Italy.
Since young age he’s been keen on, in an amateur way, his land’s traditions.
At the age of 20 he started working in a local radio called “Radio Salento Popolare”, that used to promote traditional music thru a daily section headed by Biagio himself.
All this between 70s and 80s, in which period rock and pop music were spreading all over the world.
In 1986 Biagio met Ada, the woman that’ll become his life companion, and thanks to her he approached to Torrepaduli, a small hamlet that’s the heart and epicentre of Salentinian* traditions, in which Ada was born.
Here he experienced for the first time “la Notte di San Rocco”, a festivity in which people from all the county come to take part to spontaneous dances of Pizzica and to celebrate the Saint.
So at the same time started to rise the love for this culture and the idea of making of it a real job. This happened between 1987 and 1988, when Biagio started the first activity of selling ethno cultural material: books, audio tapes, the first CDs and Salentinian Tamburreddhi, which were bought from the unique artisan, at that time, Mesciu Ninu.
Meanwhile a musical project called Arakne Mediterranea, directed by Giorgio di Lecce, was beginning, involving Biagio and Ada as well.
Midway the 90s they left the group and decided to establish Associazione Novaracne, an organisation dedicated to the divulgation of tradition in all its aspects.
So started the publishing of audio-visual and paper material: Books, CDs, among which Pizziche Salentine, Gli Ucci, Robba de Smuju of Uccio Aloisi and many more, and DVDs in the most recent years, with tapes of La Notte di San Rocco and other important events, all available on the website shop.
In this period Biagio had already started the production of Frame Drums and Tamburreddhi** on his own, beginning the activity that will make him famous.
Thru his long working experience, he has cooperated to the realisation of musical events all over Italy (Villaggio Globale in Rome, Bolzano Etno Festival in Bolzano, and so on) and has started collaborations with music groups from all the south of Italy, among which Uccio Aloisi, Uccio Bandello, Gigi Stifani e Giovanni Avantaggiato, known as Gli Ucci, then Alla Bua, Officina Zoé and many more.
In this field is really important the partnership with Mascarimirì, that is still running after more than ten years.
As an artisan, Biagio has made a long research on the technical and physical aspects of his products, bringing them, step by step, on a better level, and making them real professional instruments.
Recently he has taken part to two important projects, La Notte Incanta, together with Dilinò and Kurumuny, realising a cultural gathering during the concerts of La Notte della Taranta; and “Tamburello o Tamburreddhu?” with Dilinò and Mascarimirì, an informative effort made to recover the original Salentinian Tamburreddhu.
Biagio today is one of the most important frame drum artisans and builders all over Europe.
THE FRAME DRUM
The origin of frame drum is lost in ancient eras and is strictly linked to human history. Matter of fact, it’s not possible to find its roots.
They’re unknown, but there are documents that proof its existence and use more than 6000 years ago, in lands like Greece and Egypt.
Probably it is the most ancient instrument used by human beings, in fact, in different shapes, forms and uses, it’s spread all over the world.
From Europe to Centre and South America, from North Africa to South-East Asia passing through Middle East, the frame drum is deep-rooted in every culture.
The building materials are really similar from zone to zone: a wooden frame, usually with a circular shape, bended with vapour (even if it’s possible to find it exemplars with square frames, like Adufe in Portugal); the skin is of animal origin, tanned to take fur and fat away. Normally it’s goat or sheep skin, but it’s common to find camel, fish, snake and donkey skins as well.
It is fixed wet to the frame, and then once dried it gains its own typical sound. In the last decade it’s becoming common to use synthetic sinks, noticeable for their transparency.
Most of frame drums come with skins only on one side, because the other it’s used to hold the instrument, but sometimes can be found drums with skins on both sides that close completely the space inside the frame, which contains little bells or metallic pieces to enrich the sound produced.
The fixing process of skin can be done in different was: glue, metallic or wooden nails, a wooden circular support or a decorative stripe.
In this context, inherit a particular attention the Mediterranean area, that by giving birth to Greece, Latin and Arabic culture it’s mother land of several variants of drums, that still have affinities in their differences.
Just to make some examples: Pandeiro in Galicia, Riqq and Bendir in Maghreb, Dayereh and Daf in Persia, Balkans and Turkey and all the South Italian traditional drums (like Tamburreddhu).
This is the main aspect of our research.
Italian drums and Tamburreddhu, in specific!
Southern Italy has a various, rich and enviable culture of frame drums: Tammorra in Campania, Tambureggiu in Calabria and so on.
Unfortunately all these variants are generalised and lumped with the use of the single word Tamburello, that means everything and nothing.
Our aim is to underline these differences, not to divide or discredit but to bring attention to this folkloric variety. That’s why the project “Tamburello o Tamburreddhu?” was born.
Find out more on the page of the website dedicated to the Tamburreddhu!