Music in the Sicilian tradition
Follow us on our journey to discover the music in the Sicilian tradition.
Sicily is the largest island of Italy and the Mediterranean, an amazing land, rich in history and traditions.
Traditional Sicilian music has its roots in folk songs: canzoncine, serenades, lullabies, tarantellas and Christmas songs.
Every event in life has been sung by the multitude of civilizations that have followed one another over the years.
The songs were passed down orally, from village to village, from town to town, taking on new characteristics and variations from time to time.
“Folk songs are the archives of the people, the treasure of its science, its religion, the life of its fathers, the splendors of its history, the expression of the heart, the image of its interior, in joy and in weeping.” – Johann Gottfried Herder
Sicilian music – The origins
The history and traditions of a people are always enclosed in its musical production. This is particularly true for people having a long and complex history and a very “lively” folk culture, such as the Sicilian one.
For any inhabitant of the island it is impossible not to remember or never to have listened to at least one poem, a lullaby, a folk dance or an ancient nursery rhyme.
The variety of Sicilian popular music has its roots in folk songs, first of all work songs.
These songs were born spontaneously from the need of having to coordinate group works; they were in fact sung by farmers during the harvest, the grape harvest, or by fishermen during the slaughter of tuna.
These ancient crafts spontaneously produced noise and this served to create the basis for the rhythm.
A nuvena ‘i Natali
Music in the Sicilian tradition is rich in songs dedicated to Christmas festivities. These songs remind us of the past and make us make a real journey in time, making us live the atmospheres well known to our grandparents.
Christmas Novenas are narrative songs divided into nine parts and tell stories related to the nativity. The content and the characters are taken directly from the Gospels.
In ancient times, during the nine days before Christmas Eve, the singing was performed in front of the crib, by ninariddari, ciaramiddari or wind instrument players. The ninariddari went around the houses and also stopped in front of the putie (small stores ), accompanying with the music the so-called ninnareddi.
One of the most ancient dances in the world: the Tataratà
The Tataratà, whose name derives from the sound emitted by the drum, is an armed dance that, over the years, for the spectacularity, the charm and the uniqueness of its kind, has attracted the attention of many scholars.
It is an exceptional folkloric event, certainly one of the most ancient in the world.
Still today, there are many folkloristic groups which are committed to keep alive this unique tradition.
Tarantella Siciliana – Timeless Passion
When we talk about Tarantella, our thoughts immediately turn to the traditional dance typical of Southern Italy, considered the most representative dance of Italian folklore in the world.
During the summer evenings the sound of tambourines, flutes and accordions invades the squares of Sicily in a blaze of colors and wild rhythms.
If, at this point – maybe thanks to this article – you have felt an unstoppable desire of songs which tell the colors and the folklore of Sicily, we invite you to visit our section Sicilian Music!
The album “Sicilia in musica, tarantelle e serenate” is the result of the work and commitment of more than ten artists including musicians, singers, graphic designers, songwriters, composers and arrangers who, supported by a great passion for music and for their land, wanted to dedicate a tribute to Sicily.
A project that provides not only the research and the reworking of Sicilian songs, but also the composition of new songs in respect of the reasons and traditional forms.
The disc opens with an unpublished tarantella by Giovanni Niosi that makes you want to dance. An orchestral reinterpretation of Ciuri ciuri, with guitars, mandolins and accordions splendidly interpreted by Nicoletta Caravello.
Followed by a new and funny Tarantella del freddo composed by Giovanni Dall’O’ which is the preamble to two unpublished songs: the Sirinata by Salvatore Battaglia, and the cheerful Sicilia Bedda, written for the occasion by Vera Sorrentino, dedicated to Sicily and interpreted by N. Caravello.
12 magnificent songs arranged using typical instruments: mandolin, friscalettu, marranzano, bummulu and tambourine and sung exclusively in dialect.