Music in the oral sicilian tradition popular music today


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Music in the oral sicilian tradition

  • POPULAR MUSIC TODAY The most part of the popular cultures has changed very much in the last century: the press and the massmedia have allowed the access to the city culture; In such a way, many phenomena a time to the margins of popular music had a great importance. Shortly, the aim of popular music has quiltly changed over the last post-war period, and the lines that separate it from the other types of music are made less clean. In any case, like world-wide phenomenon, also changing itself, it does not disappear.





The popular sicilian instruments represent one essential member in the execution of popular music; The most used instruments are:

  • CORDOFONI:

  • Violino;

  • Violoncello;

  • Mandolino;

  • Liuto;

  • Guitar(sound locators);



Music is simple, made up of one short strofa (commonly of four verses) repeated many times over with various words. The use of the antifona is diffused in all Europe. The rhythm is sometimes linked to the versification. Instrumental popular music stretches ritmically to being repetitive. Much popular music is made up of a monoacoustic not accompanied melody.

  • Music is simple, made up of one short strofa (commonly of four verses) repeated many times over with various words. The use of the antifona is diffused in all Europe. The rhythm is sometimes linked to the versification. Instrumental popular music stretches ritmically to being repetitive. Much popular music is made up of a monoacoustic not accompanied melody.



Executed by members of the community lacking in a specialistic musical formation, popular music often is tied to the cycles of the seasons, key event in the personal life and practical activity like the religious one, the job, the cure of the children. Popular music can be called music of the lower classes. When it passes from an executor to the other, a popular song stretches to modify itself as a result of creative participations or to imperfections of the memory. Popular music generally endures the influence of the near cultural centers (city, courts, monasteries) but it is also that one which the ethnic community acknowledges most. In general terms it blooms outside institutions like the school and the Church.

  • Executed by members of the community lacking in a specialistic musical formation, popular music often is tied to the cycles of the seasons, key event in the personal life and practical activity like the religious one, the job, the cure of the children. Popular music can be called music of the lower classes. When it passes from an executor to the other, a popular song stretches to modify itself as a result of creative participations or to imperfections of the memory. Popular music generally endures the influence of the near cultural centers (city, courts, monasteries) but it is also that one which the ethnic community acknowledges most. In general terms it blooms outside institutions like the school and the Church.



It is music that has been transmitted orally, diffused through the execution and not with the notation, learned to ear. The names of its authors are not know, or however forgotten.

  • It is music that has been transmitted orally, diffused through the execution and not with the notation, learned to ear. The names of its authors are not know, or however forgotten.



The love, the faith, the stoicism, the religion, the plant, the happiness, the satira civil and political, the resentful, full principles of bile, are the wide range of the feelings that the people sing in its songs. The Love: The songs speak about the many feelings of the human mind; first of all it is the love: the sicialian lover sang its admiration for the beauty of the woman with valuable metaphors; the woman is a rare diamond, precious stone palace, navigating boat vessel; it from the trecce of gold, from the fine forehead, arches prevails them the eyelash, corals the lips; beautiful more than the sun and the moon… The Pain: “I canti della vicaria”tells the suffering of the condemned, with the flood of the affections that irrompe, with the feeling of the lost freedom; the desperation is to the taken ones with the pain, the life in fight with the dead women.

  • The love, the faith, the stoicism, the religion, the plant, the happiness, the satira civil and political, the resentful, full principles of bile, are the wide range of the feelings that the people sing in its songs. The Love: The songs speak about the many feelings of the human mind; first of all it is the love: the sicialian lover sang its admiration for the beauty of the woman with valuable metaphors; the woman is a rare diamond, precious stone palace, navigating boat vessel; it from the trecce of gold, from the fine forehead, arches prevails them the eyelash, corals the lips; beautiful more than the sun and the moon… The Pain: “I canti della vicaria”tells the suffering of the condemned, with the flood of the affections that irrompe, with the feeling of the lost freedom; the desperation is to the taken ones with the pain, the life in fight with the dead women.



The Sicily is considered from always the crib of the popular italian song, rich of “stornelli”,”serenate”,”ninne nanne”, songs and games of boys,”satire”, “mottetti”and sacred and profane legends. Between the “ninne nanne” they find “canzonette” for Jesus true and own Child christmas that represents a ring between the “ninne nanne” and the popular religious songs. As far as the dances they are survivors that wedding one, “chiavu”, “lu diavulecchiu”, “puliciusa” and, between the others, “fasola”, once represented and sang (as “tarantella”). Typical instruments are “mariolu” or “marranzanu” or “ngannalaruni”, “azzarinu” “friscalettu”,”tammurinu”(the large drum),”ciaranedda” and “circhettu”.

  • The Sicily is considered from always the crib of the popular italian song, rich of “stornelli”,”serenate”,”ninne nanne”, songs and games of boys,”satire”, “mottetti”and sacred and profane legends. Between the “ninne nanne” they find “canzonette” for Jesus true and own Child christmas that represents a ring between the “ninne nanne” and the popular religious songs. As far as the dances they are survivors that wedding one, “chiavu”, “lu diavulecchiu”, “puliciusa” and, between the others, “fasola”, once represented and sang (as “tarantella”). Typical instruments are “mariolu” or “marranzanu” or “ngannalaruni”, “azzarinu” “friscalettu”,”tammurinu”(the large drum),”ciaranedda” and “circhettu”.

  • The canzuna is called strambottu in Caltanissetta, sturnettu to the Etna, in S.Agata is said barcarole, duffle-coat; it is said to the furnarisca, the countrywoman, the vicariota, the carrittera because sung to the way of imprisoned, of the peasants, the weavers, the carrettieri that sang many.The meter of “the canzuna siciliana” with eight lines of endecasillables and alternated rhymes. The “ciuri”are songs of two or three lines,popular among the jails; Arie or Ariette, was sung with accompanyment of guitars;The “Storii” are legends;”Jocura” are childish games.”Le Orationi” are short sacred legends,sung in the evening in the streets or in front of the houses of devout people by blind singers,celebrating the saints venerated by people;”Le Diesille”are songs aimed at remembering the spirits of defuncts;





The song developed among peasant poets of countries and disowned villages, became the song of everybody; the people rewarded their merit, handing on this melody, with learning it, passing it from mouth is… gradually they changed. In a short time, the commerce, the communications, the pilgrimages, the wars, the great religious festivities, diffused the songs that were adopted, embellished, received, modified, accordin to the habits and the character of the people. Often it happened that some songs exceeded the borders of the island assuming other dialectal shapes. In the popular songs, the sicialian has documented their life every day, the daily life of the people; they are become an historical and philosophical, moral and religious document.

  • The song developed among peasant poets of countries and disowned villages, became the song of everybody; the people rewarded their merit, handing on this melody, with learning it, passing it from mouth is… gradually they changed. In a short time, the commerce, the communications, the pilgrimages, the wars, the great religious festivities, diffused the songs that were adopted, embellished, received, modified, accordin to the habits and the character of the people. Often it happened that some songs exceeded the borders of the island assuming other dialectal shapes. In the popular songs, the sicialian has documented their life every day, the daily life of the people; they are become an historical and philosophical, moral and religious document.



At the beginning it was the melos… therefore we could say of the sicialian popular song of oral tradition. People have created and recognized an own melody on which adapted the poetry inherited from the fathers, the language speech melted docilely with the rhytm of its music. The sicialian people, listened to the nomos Greek, the maqam Arabic, the bizantinian hymn, the courtly song of the Trovatori, the poliphony of sixteenth and seventeeth centuries, a mixture of styles from which it is difficult to trace the beginning of sicialian popular music.

  • At the beginning it was the melos… therefore we could say of the sicialian popular song of oral tradition. People have created and recognized an own melody on which adapted the poetry inherited from the fathers, the language speech melted docilely with the rhytm of its music. The sicialian people, listened to the nomos Greek, the maqam Arabic, the bizantinian hymn, the courtly song of the Trovatori, the poliphony of sixteenth and seventeeth centuries, a mixture of styles from which it is difficult to trace the beginning of sicialian popular music.




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