How to play Launeddas

(Qui per la versione Italiana)

The Launeddas, the Sardinian popular direct-breath polyfonic musical instrument is made up of three different cane tubes of unequal size. The longest is called "Tumbu or pedale", it has no lateral holes, and it produces a prolonged grave note in the only natural hole of the cane. The second cane is called "Mancosa Manna" linked to the first by the use of a tarred string; it is played with the left hand by holding one's thumb underneath it in order to hold up its weight ; it has five little rectangular holes, for of which are covered by the fingertips of the following fingers: forefinger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger. The fifth hole, the lowest one called "Pentiadori" or "arrefinu is left open. The third cane is the shortest, it is called "Mancosedda" or "destrina", and it has five little holes too; it is played with the right hand by covering the four upper holes as mentioned before for "Mancosu Manna" and by leaving the fifth free/open. Every cane tube has a single beating reed that is produced by the cane itself, so that final end of the cane remains linked to the cane knot.


How the musician is capable of producing and maintaining it.
No polyphonic wind instrument with a protracted breathing technique, except "Launeddas" is played uninterruptedly even when the notes are separated or when there is a pause, obtained by lowering simultaneously the tone to the note of the chord or to the note of the tonality of the music played during the moment of seperation or pause: for this reason the "launeddas" player has to breath into the instrument continuously from the beginning to the end of the piece played, without the slightest interruption. To the reader who is not familiar with Launeddas it could appear impossible to blow continuously without stopping at all for more than an hour. This happens because the Launeddas player is capable of recovering his breath without any difficulty without interrupting the piece of music. The technique: The musician breathes deeply before the beginning of the piece, and re-takes breath at every Semibreve, then he puts the Launeddas to his mouth and blows. During the first three beats he keeps his breath for the last quarter of the semibreve by forcibly blowing up his cheeks. In the last quarter, he both deflates his cheeks compressing his breath stored up in the Launeddas, and takes breath inhaling through his nose and so on continuously.


The way to learn the protracted breathing technique is the same as described for the player above; for the learner however it is slightly different because even if he is an adult, before learning he cannot produce sufficient air so as to play; he will have to use a little cane in place of the Launeddas. We will provide instructions so that this little cane can be made and instructions in order to use it. Take a pen, eliminate the ink container and put a little plug in the little hole on the side; between this hole and the upper part of the plastic container (where the little plastic plug is placed, which will remain closed) make another hole smaller than the other already found on the pen. In order to do this use the tip of a red-hot needle. Then fill a glass of water and after having placed it on the table put the plastic pen container in your mouth on the side from which the ink container was taken off. Place it in the glass of water until you reach and cover the new tiny hole and then blow; you will notice the tiny bubbles and the sound created by them. You will also notice that when you have finished blowing the bubbles will stop too. Summarizing the technique then: concentrate, set the pen cover in your mouth, place it in the water and blow in the same way as the Launeddas player blows in his instrument. Let's repeat: During the first three times; that is at one two and three, you store the air for the last quarter, by forcibly inflating your cheeks. In the last quarter (without interrupting the flux of wind coming out) you should simultaneously deflate your cheeks and compress the air in them and at the same time you take in air from your nose, and continue blowing the other semibreve. It you don't succeed the first time, try again. Don't feel frustrated because a great number of people, even though understanding the technique, have rarely succeeded at a first attempt. When the learner has acquired this, he just needs practice until he is capable of going on for at least 10 minutes. After this it can be said that he is at a good stage, because he has reached a stage and resolved a problem that seemed impossible to reach at the beginning.

developping protracted breathing...