Alfonso Konović, Barban, 1939

Alfonso Konović Alfonso Konović playing the sopela with two accordionists in a procession of wedding guests. Barban, 1970s. Propriety of Alfonso Konović.

Alfonso Konović from Jurićev Kal near Barban made his first sopela completely by hand when he was 17 years old. An older neighbour had one sopela and would sometimes borrow it to him to try to play. Since it became embarrassing for him to borrow the instrument, he decided to make his own. "I started singing in the fields when I was 15 years old and playing when I made this roženica by hands when I was 17 years old, it was in 1956. (...) I went to get the wood and a year after I went to work and I made it and it served me until I finished with the army. That was the time I started working so I bought a roženica because I wanted it to be nicer, to look nicer". (Alfonso Konović) Alfonso is primarily a musician, as he says, "... always around at weddings, and we went to dances every Sunday. (...) When we were young, the village was full of youngsters, we would meet around evening, we went out and sang in the local way. I had a furnace in the old house so we met there, now and then someone would bring a jug of wine and we would sing for two, three hours. (...) We walked around, singing, and we had harmonicas, and we worked with them too. Then, after some three years I bought an accordion so I went out with it too." (Alfonso Konović) He began making instruments seriously in 2000, after having acquired a small lathe and all the necessary tools for making instruments. He made all Istrian traditional instruments and reeds, and paid special attention to the sopelica about which he didn’t know much and thought it was a forgotten and neglected instrument. A careful approach to the sopelica and its alignment with the dimensions of a small sopela, led him to other thoughts. This resulted in the creation of a new instrument – the dvojnice sopelica. They can be compared to the dvojnice whose pipes separate at the bottom and resemble a sopelica – they have the same arrangement of holes as the dvojnice, but with a specific sound. "All the instruments are two, they have two voices. The bagpipes, šurle, dvojnice, roženice are made as pairs, to play in pairs, and the sopelica didn’t have a pair, it played solo, that’s why it was abandoned because one voice is not as nice as two voices. Then I started playing with two sopelice, it sounded much nicer when you played with two of them. But you felt uncomfortable, you were moving, so you couldn’t arrange them every time. Then I started to think how I could make a pair for it too, but as one piece. I had a dvojnice then that played poorly. I sawed them to a 13 centimetres length and made channels. The reeds were already made, because if dvojnice want to be sopelice they must have the same holes. The central hole must be at the same height. And when I made them and proved to play them I was really happy! Now the sopelica also has a pair." (Alfonso Konović)