Italian folk and traditional songs classes

What about a trip into Italian deepest traditions?


Italian folk music has a deep and complex history.

National unification came quite late for the Italian peninsula, so that its many separate cultures still remain very distinct when compared to those of many other European countries. Moreover, Italian folk music reflects the geographic position of Italy as a crossroad between Europe and the countries on the Mediterranean Sea: Arabic, African, Celtic, Persian, and Slavic traditions have all had their role in shaping the musical style of different Italian regions. The rough geography of the country, as well as the historical predominance of the city-state organization, has allowed quite different musical styles to coexist in close proximity.

The modern understanding of Italian folk music has its roots in the growth of ethnomusicology in the 1940s and 1950s, and in the revival of regionalist pride in Italy at that time.

In the 1950s, a number of important field recordings were conducted, and toward the end of the decade, a special effort was made to record the folk traditions of the “Meridone” (Southern Italy), through studies such as those of the tarantella, made by the ethnologist Diego Carpitella and the anthropologist Ernesto de Martino.

So which part of Italy are we going to explore with out voices? Southern Italy, of course! A folk dance called “Tarantella” is still sometimes performed in remote towns of the South. The dance was originally performed to cure the bite of a spider, the “Lycosa Tarentula,” whose victims, usually young women, had to dance until exhaustion. Musicians used several rhythms to cure illness, according to which kind of spider had bitten the victim. Also, Greek ethnic groups still live today in the areas of Salento (Apulia) and Calabria, where they live according to their traditions and peculiar dialects (Griko and Grecanico, respectively). Greeks lived in the area for an undetermined amount of time, and although the community has been largely assimilated by the Italian population, the influence of the peculiar origin of those groups still remains.

In modern Southern Italy, people still sing and listen to their ancient songs, some of which will be included in this program.

In Italy, the research on popular songs and traditions of the oral culture of Southern Italy is meant nowadays to recover the rituals and the ways of life of a society by now close to extinction: that of the Italian peasants. It is possible to find in these songs the taste of one’s everyday work, the feeling of a life lived in close relationship with nature, the decorous suffering of bitter moments as well as the authenticity of the joyous events of life.

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I am happy to guide students, letting them both discover the traditional songs and understand the context of their origins. I accompany singing with the typical Italian frame drum while illustrating the meaning of the words and their pronunciation. Through singing, the students will understand the traditional and ritual aspects of our oral culture as well as its values of respect and love.

Individual and group classes in the area of Lawrence, KS. Lessons available on Skype.

For info, contact Laura by e-mail.