Pizzica Tarantata: a journey through Apulian sounds and rhythms

by | Oct 16, 2021 | Apulian News

Pizzica Tarantata. A cultural journey to discover the essence of Puglia can only start from sounds and traditions, from the pressing rhythms that characterize the region from Gargano to Salento. In fact, Apulia has a history of sounds intertwined with legends, where ancient beliefs were expressed through dances and rituals. Among the most ancient and traditional genres of southern Italy, the Tarantella Garganica has among its main devotees the Cantori di Antonio Piccininno and Andrea Sacco. Among the main festivals has its importance the Carpino Folk Festival, every year starting in the first ten days of August in the Gargano territories, unexplored and suggestive. This festival represents a combination of innovation and culture in which traditional Italian and European folk music meet. The interest revolving around these popular musics of the Gargano sees prominent names of the Italian and international music scene such as the historian ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, Diego Carpitelli, the famous Nuova Compagnia Canto Popolare, the saxophonist Daniele Sepe, the Musicanova of Eugenio Bennato and Carlo D’Angiò. At Vieste, the tradition lives again today in serenades and evening romps, with personalized verses sung for one’s lover, or commissioned for an original and amazing declaration of love.

Pizzica Tarantata

The highest Italian musical and cultural expression, finds in the tarantella of the Gargano and in the festivals connected to it, an important artistic and cultural moment. The concentration of romantic classicism where the dreamy rhythm of the tambourine becomes an irrepressible and delicious dance, makes this music special and unmissable. The melodies, handed down from generation to generation, orally, by the shepherds in transit in the area, were each associated with a particular country, which is why today each rhythm has the name of an area. You can still enjoy the notes of those ancient melodies, mainly used to heal from the bite of the tarantula, which seems to cause psychotic crises that can go to alter the behavior of women. Expert musicians were in fact able to heal or temporarily soothe that state of “pizzicata”. A sound that could last for days, depending on the reactions of the “pizzicato”. The combined rhythm of tambourines and vibrations recalled esoteric and ancient rites.

The substantial difference between the two Apulian musical genres, among those best known in the tradition, is inherent in the way the tambourine is played: in the Gargano Tarantella, the tambourine is struck with the sole tip of the fingers, while in the Tarantata Salentina, the instrument is played by twirling the entire hand. The dances have simple structures for both musical genres, making these particular melodies perfect for dancing.

The Salento area, on the other hand, has made its folklore an invaluable popular value. The Pizzica tarantata is a tourist attraction, whose highest expression is the Notte della Taranta, a traveling folk music festival that in August invades various squares involving musicians of great fame. The final concert has a history and a value of great cultural importance, for this reason in each edition we rely on a maestro concertatore who provides the arragiamento of traditional music of Salento. The typical music of the area, finds its highest expression in the final concertone of Melpignano, a city in which about one hundred thousand spectators gather, exclusively for this event. A tradition handed down and evolved over the years, a tradition that brings far the name of Puglia and its typicality, popular music and ancient rituals.


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