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Salento music 
grika, pizzica, taranta and modern


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Origins and meaning of Salento music

As in many ancient cultures, Salento music also owes its origins to the externalization of feelings of social unease, especially the hard days of work in the fields, the distance between the wife and the emigrated husband, the protests towards the owner. On these issues we find above all a clear distinction between songs to cheer and songs of lament. However, the literature of songs of love and death and joyful songs played just for dancing is also vast. Of course, a special mention should be made of the pizzica tarantata, a genre entirely dedicated to the act of liberating dance, to which the Notte della Taranta festival was initially dedicated. The voices of Salento music, soloists and choristers, originally presented some peculiarities of the timbre and a very unique use of the vocal instrument. Today, the artists who interpret it are many, including foreigners, therefore, without ever forgetting what the true sounds of male and female Salento voices are, Salento is very open to musical contaminations

The songs in Salento griko

Numerous are the songs written in the ancient local language, the Griko, which have come down to the present day. Some musical groups still write unpublished texts in the ancient language of Grecìa Salentina, widely diffused until 2000, still used by the elderly and lovers. Countless efforts by the Puglia Region to protect this minority language that tells everything about Salento: pupils could follow Griko courses from elementary school in public education up to the 90s, later language counters, info-points were introduced. , comparative courses of Griko and Neogreco. Griki songs are also performed during the Taranta Night. Exaggerated feelings, desperate tears, social protests, lullabies, songs and dances of aggregation, religious compositions, celebrations of historical events that have shaken the population, imaginative tales, bucolic and extremely graceful contemplations of nature. In the grika language, deriving from Ancient Greek, all the emotions were expressed and all the knowledge of a colored land was handed down.

The pizzica of Salento: singing and dancing

To talk about pizzica from Salento, we must take into account that we are talking about a type of song and a dance at the same time. The Salento pizzica is still performed in the Salento dialect, different from Griko due to its Latin origin common to other areas of Italy. The same dialect has a musical cadence that is reflected in the obsessive rhythms of the pizzica with variations on the theme and sudden flashes of euphoria. A fundamental instrument of the pizzica is the tambourine, of which many types are still sold today depending on the sound you want to obtain. This type of music performed some very specific functions which can be summarized as follows:

Pinch - pinch

The joyful dance par excellence is the pizzica - pizzica. From frivolous, imaginative, exaggerated themes, this dance was performed in different contexts, all those in which there was social aggregation. Very common to come across village festivals, it was widely used in family celebrations. We dance in pairs, even between individuals of the same sex, between relatives or friends.

The shielded pizzica (or sword dance)

Originally conceived as a settling of scores between men, it subsequently became a pure goliardic expression, or at most a test of strength. Widespread among wealthy landowners, it was later adopted by the entire population. It consists of the simulation of a rustic duel, in which two men compete for the love of a woman or must decide the winner of an argument. There are also some versions of it in Griko.

The pizzica tarantata

The pizzica tarantata is a liberating act with which women suffering from psychosomatic disorders could alleviate or heal their frustration. The nature of the disease of these women was publicly attributed to the bite of a spider, the Tarantula, a harmless arachnid present in the Salento fields, to camouflage extreme suffering attributable to incessant fatigue, sacrifice and other problems, including family ones. The diagnosis was carried out simply by notifying the tarantata of his condition. At that point, the gathering of an orchestra was organized and the same was encouraged to dance until the psychological pressure was released. The therapeutic purpose of dance was actually often fulfilled: in a society where work, child rearing and sacrifice were a woman's only perspectives, being the center of attention, showing off publicly and dancing was great medicine. .

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