The Well at Montefiore Castle, Italy

The well in the renaissance castle of Montefiore was first pointed out to me by fellow jazz musicians while on tour in the Marche district of Italy. More than a well it is an enormous, cavernous reservoir of water where the opening of the well acts as a mouthpiece connected to a vast underground sound chamber. When I heard the unique effects produced in the well chamber I thought they should be recorded. The mayor of Montefiore generously provided us with the key to the castle and, together with sound engineer Carlo Simoncelli, we began recording at sunset and continued through the night. Two DAT microphones were lowered into the depths of the cistern and the flutes were played into the opening of the well. The natural echo has a remarkably long 'tail' of around 8 seconds, so a piece of music had to be chosen where the notes of the melody blend with each other diatonically or chordally. A beautiful, haunting melody such as the jazz evergreen 'Stardust' seemed like a natural choice.
The splashes that can be heard in this recording are drops of water seeping through the stone and dripping into the cavern below. The bass frequencies of the well are extraordinary, as can be heard on 'De Profundis' (Out of the Depths), an improvised piece performed on the bass flute where key clicks and tongue stops are used to make the lower frequencies of the well resonate.

The castle at Montefiore, Italy

Peter Guidi and sound engineer Carlo Simoncelli




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