A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Piffero

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PIFFERO is really the Italian form of the English word Fife, and the German Pfeife. In the 'Dizionario della Musica' it is described as a small flute with six finger-holes and no keys. But the term is also commonly used to denote a rude kind of oboe, or a bagpipe with an inflated sheepskin for reservoir, common in Italy, and occasionally to be seen about the streets of London, the players being termed Pifferari. [See Pastoral Symphony, vol. ii. p. 670 b.]

Spohr, in his Autobiography (Dec. 5, 1816), quotes a tune which he says was played all over Rome at that season by Neapolitan pipers, one playing the melody on a sort of 'coarse powerful oboe,' the other the accompaniment on a bagpipe sounding like three clarinets at once. We give a few bars as a specimen.

<< \new staff { \key g \major \time 6/8 \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \relative d'' { r4 r8 r4 d8 | d4 c8 b4 a8 | d b4 ~ b8 c d | e4. d8 e d | a4. ~ a4 b8 | c4 b8 \grace b a4 g8 | a4. ~ a8 b c | b4. a8 b a | g4 s8 s4._"etc." } }
\new Staff { \key g \major \relative b' << { <b g>2.( | <a fis>4.) <b g>4 <c fis,>8 | <b g>2. | <c fis,>4. <b g> | <a fis> q4 <b g>8 | <c a>4 <b g>8 <a fis>4 <g e>8 | <a fis>2. | <b g>4. <c fis,> } \\ { d,2. ~ d ~ d ~ d ~ d ~ d ~ d ~ d <d g b> } >> } >>


It is a very different tune from Handel's 'Pastoral Symphony.'

[ W. H. S. ]