Gira Girasole

Introduction: All the pieces are based on traditional folk melodies of Italy. There are about 50 of them which can be found explicitely, as in ‘Bella Ciao’,  or hidden in some voices. As usually the the music was made with the karo optimisation algorithms and the borrowing to Indian forms, which are usual to my compositional language. In general I make a citation more or less recognisable of the original theme then I transform it progressively by various processes.

The Gira Girasole compositions:

Costumi Bianchi 3:35, is a joyful 7/8 dance à la karo featuring the tiptar.

‘Et chante le Rossignol’ 4:32 is an orchestral development with a large organ solo influenced by Ollivier Messiaen.

‘Peine de l’amour’ 2:18 is a two-voice invention for clarinet solo.

‘Prairie’ 3:36 is an outsider. A film music Karo recorded for Young & Rubicam agency and which we found of interest.

‘Ninna nanna’ 3:09 and 2:00 are pieces which involve solo cello work inspired by the Kodaly cello sonata.

‘Rosa’ 3:00 is a joyful little piece involving frequent meter changes. (Original theme: la rosa lu ciardino).

‘Gira Girasole’5:16 is a a full ensemble piece featuring also the voice of Isabella di Venosa. It is based on a kind of large loop with a metric involving added 16ths, again inspired by Olivier Messiaen. A written rubato clarinet solo flies over the strict metric.

Bella Ciao’ 4:06 is a typical example where the theme is citated as first then goes on various transformations. The most obvious involves local time stretching by adding short meter changes to the original 4/4. The harmonies are progressivley transformed by the usage of karo-s.

Rythme des battipali” 2:45 is a quite piece involving a little instrumental trick. Dirk plays the clarinet only with the right hand and modulates the sound with short actions of the LH on the trill keys. These actions are simultneaously underlined by the keyboard.

Cielo‘  4:27 No mistery. This is typical Indian music with the tiptar improvising on the theme of Stelle and  the tabla playing Rupak taal (7/4).

Francesca da Rimini salvata‘ 2:06 is a joyful variation in 5/8 on the original melody of ‘Tu voi marito, oh Nina’. Involves a tiptar solo.

Stelle‘ 4:00 is based on the original ‘Le stelle de lu cielu’ (and other melodies) but also on a funny little Indian piece which I heard played on a kind of small vibraphone in rupak taal.

Belis Maninis‘ 3:22  involves a lot of rythmic and metric activity, as well as an active contrapunctal treatment of the orchestral voices. . The tabla solo, by the way, is entirely written, and that was, I guess, one of the first of the genre…
Three Italian Trios: Fenesta, Notte d’Estate, Da Balar.


The Gira Girasole scores albums:
‘The Gira Girasole’ album in C
Contains arrangements for instruments in C accompanied by piano (or tap-guitar).
‘The Gira Girasole album’ for clarinet in Bb
Contains arrangements for clarinet in Bb accompanied by cello and piano (or tap-guitar).
This album contains also the three Italian Trios (da Balar, Fenesta, Notte d’estate) for clarinet Bb, cello, piano.
Published by Clic Music, Editore Materiali Sonori

‘Elementi di scienza Napolitana’, string quartet.

‘Funtana’, for choir.

The original Italian folk melodies: The scores of the original themes are available.
A review by the tiptarist and writer Ray Ashley.
The CD I am referring to is Gira Girasole, by Daniels Schell and Karo.
This CD is on the Materiali Sonori label, in Italy, which is a division of Time Warner, so lets not go complaining that there is no major-label tap centric stuff.  This CD is as good as it gets, and should not be too hard to find.  It features the Stick, keyboards, clarinet, cello, and tablas.

What I like is the linearity of the music.  The keyboard parts are single lines.  The Stick has its distinctive sound in left and right hands, but there is interlocking counterpoint and linear lines in the (fourth tuned) bass.  The Stick sound is at the center of the band, with low, growly bass and percussive highs.  Of course, the clarinet and cello play songle lines and tablas provide great punctuation without the overbearing nature of a drum kit.  All the parts interlock well throughout.

These songs represent a modern composition al style that is accessible at the same time.  Though I am not an expert at Indian music, it is clear to me that Schell is influenced by Indian music in rhythm and melodic contour, without copying it outright.  For instance this is not cheap 1960’s “raga rock” where you have a buzzing sitar and tamboura with a few flat seconds thrown in.  Rather, this is music that is driven by Indian tabla beats.  The melodies have a slighty Indian quality, expecially the way that one istrument like the Stick may develop a melodic idea until it is fully formed, then repeat the idea a few times, then the whole band  takes it up in unison.  But the music goes beyond these eastern underpinnings with modulations and more modern harmonic language.  Schell mentioned to me that all the tracks are ultimately based on Italian folk songs.

My favorite track is the title track, a meditative journey in a time signature that I have not deciphered yet!  The opening track , “Costumi Bianchi” is a great opener which features the Stick in a very central role,with two  handed playing which is augmented by interlocking parts from the cello and clarinet.  Cello and Clarinet do get prominent unacompanied solos later in the album.

I have another Karo album which features the classic tune “Remi” which I’ll have to review some other time.”

Ray Ashley, October 2000.



Notte d’Estate

Da Balar



The Gira Girasole CD:

Daniel Schell & Karo
Music composed by Daniel Schell
Editore: Materiali Sonori, San Giovani Val d’Arno
Musicians: Dirk Descheemaeker (clarinet), Jan Kuijken: cello, Jean-Luc Manderlier: keyboards
Pierre Narcisse: tabla, percussion, Daniel Schell: tiptar. Produced by Arlo Bigazzi. Recorded by Patrick Hubard, Brussels.

Available on request:

The Italian trios: Trio Harmonia, Orio Odori, clarinet. Damiano Puliti, cello. Alessandra Garosi, piano.

Funtana:Goeyvaerts Consort. Direction, Marc Michael De Smet.

Original folk melodies: Isabella di Venosa, voice. Isabella di Venosa sings a capella the  original songs which were the source of inspiration for Girasole 1.