Posture and gestures

The “a tenore” singing is usually practiced by four singers who stand still. The traditional disposition of the singers is cross-shaped: they front each other in a close circle. The singers are usually very close to one another (often their shoulders are in contact). In many cases, the singer who plays the voice is slightly apart from the other three (and in particular of the bassu and the contra).

Figure 1 - Singers’ disposition in groups: examples from  Orgosolo (left side) and from Orosei (right side)


The needs of the spectacularization of the singing – i.e. the presence of an audience in front of the group, the presence of a camera and/or different microphones – have made very common, in these contexts, different kinds of disposition of the singers. The soloist (the boghe) is in this case often well apart from the other three singers, and in any case the circle of the singers is opened as to permit the audience to see the faces of the singers. 

Some typical gestures of the “a tenore” song are very common among singers. One of them is to touch the ear with one hand (in few cases both hands are in contact with both ears). One arm, or sometimes both, is placed behind the back. When singing with the traditional Sardinian costume, many singers are used to putting their hands on the belt. The three singers of the accompaniment choir often  are in physical contact: the most common way to be in contact with one of the fellow is to lean the elbow upon the shoulder of the singer who is on the right side, and then to place the hand (or the finger) in the ear. When singers are singing in informal contexts, many of them are used to putting one or both hands in their pockets.

Figure 2 - Singers’ gestures

In every case, the singers are serious and concentrated in their task of singing. They do not usually have specific facial expressions which are meant to convey specific emotions (like happiness, sadness etc.). Their gazes may be oriented towards different directions: sometimes the singers look to each other in order to better regulate and synchronize their parts, in other cases their gazes are directed elsewhere and in few cases they are closed. The mouth is generally (particularly in the singers of some villages, as in Bitti) not as open as one might expect to utter the text. Some of the singers (particularly many bassos and contras) are used to protrude and especially to bending their lips towards the right or the left.