TARANTELLE:The Songs of Alessa
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Traditional tarantella from Puglia. Arrangement by Alessandra Belloni and John La Barbera.
The tarantella originated as a healing trance dance to cure the mythical bite of the tarantula. This fast 6/8 rhythm, played mainly by women on medium size tambourines during this wild, erotic dance, was performed as a healing ritual to cure a mental disease called tarantismo, which mainly afflicted women (tarantate).
The women (rarely men) suffered from depression, hysteria, schizophrenia, and anguish, which was caused by repression of their sexuality, abuse, unrequited love, and exploitation at their jobs. The tarantate fell into an hypnotic state of mind, and in a trance they frantically danced for days during the Summer Solstice. The women hallucinated and saw spiders coming towards them and said they were bitten. The musicians gathered around them like shamans to play the Pizzica for three days and three nights until they were healed in a vision by St. Paul. This ritual dates back to the ancient Greek orgiastic rites in honor of Dionysus led by women dancing and playing the tambourine, and was absorbed by the Catholic Church who transformed Dionysus into St. Paul.
This dance of liberation has an amazing healing effect, releasing stress and blockage of sexual energy, according to the movements. The first part is performed on the floor, actually moving like a spider. The second part consists of fast steps, stomping of the feet, and fast spinning, as if coming out of an imaginary spider web.
Traditional womens work chant from Basilicata. Arrangement by Alessandra Belloni.
Women working in the fields chant in rhythm the story of a young girl who was forced by her father to marry a very rich count, whom she did not love. The girl swore to her father that on the first night of the wedding she would run away with the man that she really loved.
"Fronni dAlia: make your braids, your father wants to marry you off."
"Ah father, who do you want to give me to?"
"The Count of Maggio you shall marry."
"The first night I will run away with the man that I love and betray him."
Tarantella di Ogliastro
Traditional tarantella from the town Ogliastro, province of Salerno. Arrangement by Alessandra Belloni and John La Barbera.
Musical exorcism used to cure the evil eye and people possessed by evil spirits. Originating in the Renaissance during the time of the plague, people believed that the tambourine, the rhythm of the tarantella, and the frenetic dance had the power to expel evil, and to cleanse the person believed to be possessed by an evil spirit.
Traditional ancient lullaby sung in Gricanico. Arrangement by Alessandra Belloni and John La Barbera.
Gricanico is a very rare language which is a mixture of ancient Greek with dialect from Puglia, spoken in the region of Salento (Puglia). This is a lullaby sung by a lonely woman in despair in the dark night.
Traditional tarantella from Calabria; learned from Vittorio de Paola, great teacher of South Italian Folk Music. Arrangement by John La Barbera.
The title literally means fiery tarantella. Its rhythm represents the fiery and hot blooded people of the magical land of Calabria. This is a healing trance dance, originally choreographed as a spinning dance by Alessandra Belloni, and was inspired by the traditional trance dance in honor of San Rocco, in Gioiosa Jonica in Calabria.
Every year, in August, the whole town participates in a collective trance ritual, with hundreds of drummers, in honor of Saint Roche, who healed people from the plague in the Middle Ages. People believe that the fast 6/8 rhythm and the drummers had the power to heal the plague and to expel the fear of death caused by the plague.
Dedicated to my friends in Calabria, Vittorio De Paola and Massimo Cusato.
Lu Rusciu di lu Mari (The Sound of the Sea)
Traditional love song from Puglia. Arrangement by Alessandra Belloni and John La Barbera.
This beautiful and sad love song speaks about impossible love, the unrequited love that causes young lovers to be tarantati.
"One night I went by Padule, and I heard the frogs sing.
They seemed to be the sound of the sea,
the waves are so strong, that my beloved is going kill herself.
She will kill herself and I will live
La Notte delle Stelle Cadenti (The Night of the Shooting Stars)
Original song written by Alessandra Belloni.
I wrote it after a magical night on the shores in Calabria, the night of August eleventh, known as the night of the shooting stars. One of the most beautiful nights of my life, I went swimming in the clear waters under the full moon. As I floated in the warm water, I stared at the sky for a long time, and saw twelve shooting stars and made twelve wishes, many of which came true. I was very happy, but sensed that one day I would be longing for this night. This is dedicated to the end of a great love.
"This is the night of the shooting stars, the night of San Lorenzo,
the night when we make wishes, the night that I want to love you, under the moon, the full moon.
Every time I see the moon, the stars and the sea I feel so sad
I often hear a melody that reminds me of you.
Like a swallow I would like to fly to be in your arms,
and remember the night of the shooting stars..."
Occhi Turchini (Turquoise Eyes)
Traditional love lament from Calabria, learned from the group Re Niliu. Arrangement by John La Barbera.
This is a very sad love lament, usually sung by a man, about unrequited love. He is in love with a woman with turquoise eyes who is rich, and she is a land owner. He knows she can never love him back, but he says to her that she is not guilty of that and he thanks her for being so good to him.
Arrangement by Alessandra Belloni.
The first part is an ancient Neapolitan chant. This is used as invocation to the sun, to ask for his healing energy (symbolizing male energy).
The second part is a drumming ritual by Alessandra Belloni and traditional poem. The poem is recited as an enchantment or spell to make the sun rise and bring good energy.
Sulillo Mio (My Little Sunshine)
Traditional chant from Montemarano province of Avellino, learned from Giovannina, Generoso and Mariano dAgnese. Arrangement by Alessandra Belloni and John La Barbera.
Love chant sung at sunset by women working in the fields, asking the sun to go down and greet their love who is far away. The last line says "Without the heart, you cannot make love."
Tarantella del Gargano
Traditional tarantella from Puglia. Arrangement by John La Barbera.
This song has very erotic lyrics about a man madly in love with a woman who does not return his love. It is connected to the tarantella which cures the mythical bite of love.
Oh Venne Sonno
Traditional old lullaby from the mountains of Calabria. Arrangement by Alessandra Belloni and John La Barbera.
Sung by women in despair and loneliness when their husbands are away and they are left alone and scared with their babies. The women sang t