Musikalia is an Italian guitar maker, specialised in cheap traditional plucked string instruments. Back in 1994, I was dreaming of including some of those instruments in our music and I wanted to bring on stage different acoustic guitars with double strings (or “courses”). I though that they would fit perfectly well with some of our most “Celtic” progressive tunes. I really wanted to explore a little bit more the “medieval” mood of our music that was, to my point of view, underused. Still by 1995, Minimum Vital’s music was moving to some luminous progressive pop, set for Sonia Nedelec and Jean-Baptiste Ferracci’s beautiful voices.
We finally waited for 1999 to explore that kind of early music stuff, with the creation of Vital Duo. Anyway, I bought this Musikalia mandola in 1997. As soon as I got it, I was close to return it back! The guitar was tuned slightly low with bad bass strings, and shortly revealed false and almost unplayable. Then I got the idea of tuning it an octave up with bouzouki strings, and we got a miracle because it worked out very well!
This mandola is now one of my favourite instruments for writing music: It’s very light, easy to bring anywhere and it always leads me to Celtic or Irish territories. The first song I wrote for the band with this mandola is Saltarello, which opens the Atlas album. Then it took his place on En Castille, a song suggested to us by Philippe and François Claerhout, from XII Alfonso band, and based on an early melody from the 15th century.