Angelo Page

Song

Luna Rossa

This Italian song which means Red Moon is only one of the many traditional songs that continues to be performed in the original Neapolitan dialect. Naples, (Nea Polis – New City) was a pre-Roman colony founded by ancient Greeks, with middle eastern and many other influences as well. The local dialect retained many of the influences of those who settled there; the poetic quality of the dialect with its rich heritage is reflected in the folk music as well. Listen for hints of Arabic musical influences in the song.

This song of frustrated love is about a man in love with a woman who seems to evade him, she appears to be unattainable and perhaps even non-existent or in hiding. The song tells of his melancholic wandering in the night, pleading for help in contacting his love, pleading for help from the red moon in the sky and passers-by as well – all to no avail.

Artist

Renzo Arbore

Renzo Arbore, with his 16 piece band called l’Orchestra Italiana, is a very successful and much admired Neapolitan musician entertaining audiences globally. His up-tempo renditions, influenced by jazz and Latin American rhythms, of traditional Neapolitan folk songs, which go back as far as the 12th century, continue now to appeal to contemporary musical tastes.

He has paid tribute to Renato Carosone and Roberto Murolo, Neapolitan musicians of the WWI and WWII era, who popularized this ancient, classical folk music in the soft, melodic and romantic style of that era. Both styles are wonderful to listen to and it is interesting to hear them juxtaposed.

The video is interesting as it shows the lyrics written in the Neapolitan dialect; the first person to sing is the son of the song's composer; the second person to sing is Renzo Arbore.

Song

Luna Rossa Renzo Arbore

Song

Waiting for the Miracle

Waiting for the Miracle is not his best-known song, but it reflects the strong poetic streak he incorporates in his music. It’s a complex composition to understand; it’s been said that this is a defect in the song. But I enjoy the complex presentation describing a relationship between a couple that may be seen as being in the present moment or perhaps over a lifetime. The ambiguity makes you think of how emotions don’t really change too much over time, even as people age and circumstances evolve.

Artist

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen was a renowned Canadian singer-songwriter who started out as a poet/novelist and later turned to music and singing. He has been honoured with many awards including Companion of the Order of Canada. He died in his native Montreal at 82 years of age in 2016.

His music (and poetry) addresses many of the human conditions: ethics in politics, emotional dispositions, social issues, life and death, etc. His music style blends many contemporary ones and may perhaps be referred to as Early International because of its appeal to many around the world.

Song

Waiting for the Miracle - Leonard Cohen

Dance/Song Musical Style

La Taranta, Tarantella and Pizzica

These are the names of a folk music and dance style in southern Italy. This music has sketchy origins in pre-history (rituals honouring Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of euphoria and wine). In the Middle Ages, these also became a folk remedy for mental health issues such as hysteria, depression and anxiety.

Later, perhaps even into the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, these mental health issues became associated with the bite of the local species of the wolf spider, the tarantula, which was falsely thought to be poisonous and causing these mental illnesses and even death. The spider’s name was taken from Taranto, a city in the region of Puglia, Italy.

These frenzied and vigorous physical movements were eventually given the names tarantella, taranta, pizzica (meaning bite/sting/pinch) as well as other names in other regions. The afflicted person was spurred on by the traditional tambourine, over a long period of time, to trance-like states and physical exhaustion, causing them to fall and thrash around on the ground, the person’s sweat was thought to cause the venom to be removed from the body and cure the malady. Though both men and women were given this “cure”, old videos which appear to be taken in remote and isolated villages, show mostly women being “cured”. Others, usually a man, without touching her, would move around the woman with outstretched arms ready to catch her should she fall while in a trance; not originally a dance but a protective measure to prevent injury. This “protective-no-contact” between the dancers continued, became part of the dance style and is evident in the contemporary dance movements.

Women were more frequently subject to this “cure” because they suffered the brunt of the poverty and hopelessness of those times; often working in the fields (exposed to spider bites) in addition to raising children and carrying out household duties. This overwhelming stress took an emotional toll and resulted in women, more than men, having issues with mental health.

Over time, with the addition of other musical instruments to the traditional tambourine, and with the standardization of the rhythm, this became a popular dance and musical style enjoyed by people at many social functions. Today this lively and upbeat music is experiencing a huge resurgence in its appeal to young and old.

Song/Dance

La Notte della Taranta 2020 Pizzica

A very popular week-long annual festival called “La Notte della Taranta” (Night of the Taranta) takes place during August in Puglia. This festival tours several towns in the region and always ends in the town of Malpignano with a grand finale. This festival is regularly attended by hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic people drawing them from all over the world.

I have chosen a song from the festival held in the year 2020. The song is simply called Pizzica. I enjoy this performance as it also shows dancing in various picturesque towns in Puglia.

A second video of a remote area has been included showing what appears to be an actual episode of the music when once being used as a treatment for hysterical behaviour and not as enjoyable entertainment.

Song/Dance/Folk Remedy

La Notte della Taranta 2020

Folk Remedy for Hysteria - Remote Area

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