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Department of Drama and Music

Special Study (25052)






Tarantella


being a Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of B.A.
Music

in the University of Hull


by


Graziana Presicce



May 2012



















Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Christopher Wilson, for the support, enthusiasm and encouragement
which provided me with the necessary assistance to complete the following study.

Special thanks to the Music Department of The University of Hull, for the
extremely pleasant study experience, and Irina Glushenkova for letting
me discover the enjoyment of performing Chopins Tarantelle.

An enormous thank you to the special friends in
my life, who gave me the most valuable
support and affection.

CONTENTS




ABSTRACT............................................................................................................ii



INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................iii



CHAPTER 1

1.1 The Tarantella as Genre..................................................................................1

1.2 The Myth of Tarantism...................................................................................3



CHAPTER 2
!
2.1 Tarantellas as Art Music in the Concert Hall...................................................9

2.2 Musical Influences: The Tarantella of Salento, Naples and Sicily..................16



CHAPTER 3

3.1 Chopins Tarentelle, Op.43......29



CONCLUSION..........................................................................................................36



APPENDICES


1. Chronological List of Tarantellas.....................................................................38

2. Tracks List........................................................................................................40


BIBLIOGRAPHY......................................................................................................41

ABSTRACT

The mystical formation of the tarantella roots far back in Early Seventeenth Century Southern
Italy, in the form of an energetic folk dance music of improvisatory nature. Popular beliefs
claimed that only the frenetic dancing induced by this music can be the cure to the expanding
phenomenon of tarantism, the illness caused by the bite of a poisonous spider. Whilst the
genre developed in relation to its popular environment, the Romantic Era eventually led to
the establishment of tarantellas within the Art Music domain too, gaining the attention of
major composers and increasingly incorporating the dance into their own repertoires. Today,
as in the past, there is a constant tendency of regarding the two musical genres as individual
entities and abstaining from any kind of direct comparison. The fact that composed tarantellas
derive from the folk version is often mentioned in literature, but never actually explored.
The following study fills the missing literary gap, providing an investigation towards what
specifically defines a tarantella in both contexts, and to what extent their musical features are
related. The initial historical recount provides deep insight to the true origins of the folk
dance, whereas the analytical examinations offer a more in-depth musical understanding. To
fulfil this aim, a variety of sources are used, including authentic written scores, aural
transcriptions and live recordings of performed tarantellas. Another objective of this paper is
to state a certain distinction between the tarantellas of the Salento, Napoli and Sicily, another
neglected aspect of the subject. With the guidance of some music models built throughout,
the last chapter attempts the localisation of Chopins Tarantelle, Op.43, amongst these three
subcategories.




INTRODUCTION

Looking through the incredibly wide variety of genres developed since the Nineteenth
Century, a discreet amount, yet noteworthy works can be identified under the heading of
tarantella. In comparison with other genres, tarantellas only constitute an extremely small
percentage of the Western Art Music repertoire, but this certainly does not lessen their
significance: besides lesser known works, we do also find masterpieces of international
acclamation. Not as equally well known, however, are tarantellas within their folk origins.
These are mainly acquainted only within the local boundaries of their birthplace, Southern
Italy, and wider understanding other than a generalised idea of their content rarely reaches
out of the country.

The following study will embark journey in the discovery of both domains. It will amplify
general knowledge on the subject through historical and analytical research, tackling facets of
tarantellas previously unexplored, as well as undertaking a critical evaluation of the two
contrasting tarantella versions. The initial chapter will help to establish a firm understanding
on the origins of the genre, as well as an appreciation of its role within its socio-cultural
context. An investigation in the relationship between the dance music and the concert hall
will follow, eventually merging the two worlds for a comparison of the two musical styles.
The strong divergences in the two forms (written/aural music, classical instrumentation/folk
arrangements) clearly cause some limitations which obstruct our research. Nevertheless,
available resources will try to be exploited at their full potential.
As the folk dance spread her captivating sonorities throughout Italy, more tarantellas
developed independently in differing locations; a clearer distinction between these sub-genres
will be attempted. For the purpose of this study, and to enable a more focused investigation,
only Naples, Sicily and the Salento have been selected. The final chapter will be centralised
towards Chopins Tarantelle, Op.43. The piece will be first analysed, then addressed towards
previously discussed features, in search of which Chopins work stands in relation to the
explored tarantella sub-genres.
The fulfilment of the following research will at times require the use of literature of
extremely local productions and never translated; this, will however provide additional
knowledge to the work and, optimistically, create a further point of interest for the reader.





















Chapter One

1.1 Tarantella as Genre


Since the time of Aristotle, the classification of works generated a major concern for the arts.
1
Just as
for poetry and literature, the rapid development of music saw the creation of a wide variety of new
styles, which unavoidably led to the categorization of works, the arrangement of specially assigned
labels, more commonly indicated as genre. In music, the term genre may simply refer to a brief
overview of a generic characteristic: the instrumentation involved, for example, or the historical
period which the work falls into. More precise subcategories could reveal further information, or even
some sort of stylistic criteria: its form, its rhythmic traits or any other significant quality implicated.
The identification of a work within a categorized group certainly enables a quicker and simpler
orientation within a discussion or throughout literature; yet this also symbolically encodes, to its
clearly limited extent, a general outline in regards to the nature of the musical content. The aid of a
systematic arrangement, however, may result either helpful or hazardous. The risk not only lies in the
crude attempt of compressing more complex, subtle forms of music under a sole, straightforward
definition, but it builds a certain degree of expectancy from the listener, with the consequence of some
factors being taken for granted and challenging the nature of the music itself. At this point, is it still
the music defining its heading, or its naming displaying the music in a predetermined view setting? A
genre which would easily function as an emblem of the issues just mentioned is the tarantella.

It is surely a matter easily arguable and open to discussion for any of the other musical forms, in that
such concerns may as well be diagnosed for any possible musical genre. The controversy within the
tarantella, however, lies in its fluctuation between two parallel yet entirely different worlds of the

1
Wladyslaw 1aLarklewlcz, eL al., !"#$%&'(%)(AesLheLlc, vol.3 (London, 1999), p.308.
music domain: its native folk-popular context, in contrast to the high art of composed music. Despite
its peasant origins, gradually more and more composers integrated the dance as part of their
repertoire, eventually achieving a significant position within art music and establishing it as a new
genre. Even more interesting is to notice the radical difference in the form of the music itself: the
inheritance of an improvisatory oral music transmission against the formal standard notation implied
in the art high domain. We are therefore presented with two very different styles of music, two social
contexts and two musical forms but under the same name of tarantella.
From a genre perspective, the use of an interchangeable, single term provokes instability and
questions its authenticity. Even the name itself, tarantella, cannot be clearly defined in its meaning:
is it describing a form or a genre? This kind of issue also relate to the unsettled boundaries of the term
sonata. The additional problem with tarantellas, however, is that we are presented with two
completely different sources which lead to the critical issue of an inconsistent nomenclature. A
classification should, after all, be determinate and to represent a conceptual unity. Only then is it
readily classifiable.
2
Nevertheless, the fact that one form generated from the other as we will later
explore in their historical accounts gives light to a possible resolution of the matter. Referring back
to the previous argument questioning genre as defining or being defined, it is perhaps possible to state
that both actually play a role, but in two different stages of the musics development. Music obviously
creates a genre; the characteristics found in the music produce a name which allows it to be applied as
such. This is however to be considered within its original context and state. As soon as we shift these
settings, it is the named genre that aids the listener in recognising the music by somehow anticipating
hints at what to listen for, in order to find a connection, in spite of the strong differences, to the
related, original form of the music. A relatively important issue thus arises: which are the musical
traits that define tarantellas?
We will gradually attempt to provide an answer in the course of the following study and, most of all,
look for a direct connection between the two opposing contexts. Such research process would surely
restrict itself to superficiality if everything was to be confined to a score based musical analysis. A

2
!lm Samson, 'Cenre', *+)%&,(-.#"/(*01"023 [22 March 2012]
<hLLp://www.oxfordmuslconllne.com/subscrlber/arLlcle/grove/muslc/40399>
thorough understanding of the history of the tarantella and its growth within its original social context
is therefore essential.

1.2 The Myth of Tarantism

Although tarantellas soon gained the popularity, joining the concert halls of the Seventeenth Century
and firmly establishing as a genre in the
following century, the way this music
originated remained somewhat obscure.
Emerging from a combination of ancient
traditions and pagan rituals, tarantellas
derive from a mystical form of epidemic:
tarantism.
3

First signs of tarantism made their appearance in Medieval Italy, in the not merely
coincidental city of Taranto. While remnants of the phenomenon remained vividly active
right up to the Mid-Twentieth Century, its roots grounded far back in history; doctor de
Marras Sertum Papale de Venenis, most probably the earliest testimonial source to be found,
dates as far back as 1362.
4
Although the derived tarantellas will later expand and develop
independently out of the region, survived
documentations not only refer to the area of
Southern Apulia, Salento (Fig.1.1), as its apparent
birthplace, but also centralise the entire myth in
terms of authenticity and validity. According to the
mythical-cultural recounting, the real tarantism, its
effects, treatment and cure may only be considered

3
LrnesLo ue MarLlno, 45(62&&5(,21(7"8%&#% (Mllan, 1961), p.32.
4
!erry uaboo, 7"$.513(759$.&2(50,(728%&#2:(;(<$.,'(%)(65&50$"#8(50,(=">>"/5("0(<5120$% (Cxford: 2010), p.100.

Fig. 1.1 Geographical location of Salento.



!
Fig. 1.2 Nicola Caputos anatomic tables
of the Apulian tarantula, 1741.


Fig. 1.3 Allegoric depiction of Apulia in Cesare
Ripas Iconology: spiders crawling on Lady
Apulias dress (Padova edition, 1611).


to be effective if taking place strictly within the extremity that small sub-peninsula.
5

What therefore is tarantism? The mystifying, almost dark elements involved make the story
behind more difficult to accept than to understand. Everything spins around the poisonous
bite of a large wolf spider, alias Lycosa Tarantula (Fig. 1.2).
6
The effects of the venom
injected in a human body may slightly vary across individuals, but generally causes disorders
in the overall state of the person, but not fatal effects: tremors, fatigue, nausea, even
hysterical crisis, depression or unresponsiveness to the surrounding. So far nothing
exceptionally unusual; most of these symptoms roughly imitate the typical effects of
latrodectism, a syndrome elicited by the
envenomation of certain spiders.
7

Eccentricity however arises in the rather
unusual cure of these: through music. At no
time science or medicine were even considered
as a possible remedy; the only heal from
tarantism was obtained by inducing the victim
in a strenuous dance through the frenetic
rhythms of tarantellas, until the expulsion of
the venom. Music was played by a small group instruments, typically involving a violin,
tambourine, guitar (illustrated in an allegoric depiction of Apulia, Fig. 1.3) and accordion.
Musicians were called in commission of a domiciled
therapeutic service; the exorcized ritual took place
under the watchful eyes of relatives, neighbours and
some curious passerby (Fig. 1.4). The preliminary

3
ue MarLlno, 45(62&&5(,21(7"8%&#%, p.121.
6
lbld., p.80.
7
lbld., p.72.
"#$%!&%'!(!lcLure of a LaranLaLa, by
lranco lnna.

phase involves establishing a connection between the tarantata and the music, in what may
best solicit a reaction. Music was expressively composed for the treatment of the disease,
8

and sounds were explored through several attempts in search of the right melody and rhythm.
Once succeeded, the dance was prolonged until exhaustion of the victim, a stage which may
take hours, if not days. When the tarantata declares herself healed, the donations collected
throughout the rite were then offered to the church of Saint Paul, protector of the tarantate, in
thanksgiving of the blessing received. Subsistence of the biting spider could also cause
relapses to its victims, in which case the whole process was repeated, sometimes on a yearly
basis.
We have so far mentioned the feminine gender, in that, interestingly, women were
predominantly but not exclusively affected by such bites, particularly during the harvest
in the summer season. Table 1 illustrates an overview to the genders percentages of past and
recent investigations, ensuing De Martinos data gathering.
9


Table 1
Feminine participation to tarantism

Year Author Cases Female
1602 Bruni 17 64%
1741 Caputo 22 72%
1908 De Raho 25 96%
1959 De Martino 37 89%


Unsurprisingly, prodigious cures and anomalous spiders raised strong oppositions from the rational
world of science. The end of the Seventeenth Century already saw a few attempts at debunking the
myth: from anatomical analysis of the spider, to the first scientific verification of the venoms effects
in a human body, where in 1693 Doctor Bernardino Clarizio publicly challenged the myth by

8
Wllllam 8. eck, '1he 1aranLella', ?%&.8(%)($@2(;82&"/50(65&50$.15(<%/"2$'3 [28 March 2012]
<hLLp://aLshq.org/arLlcles/LaranLella.pdf>
9
ue MarLlno, 45(62&&5(,21(7"8%&#%, p.393.
exposing himself to a Lycosa bite.
10
Despite various medical declarations denying the manifestation of
severe symptoms due to the low toxicity of the venom, popular beliefs still prevailed. Only in 1742, a
sceptical treatise by Francesco Serao apparently brought the phenomenon to a decrease.
11

Nevertheless, it certainly did not cease to exist. Hence, if these spiders were proven to be reasonably
inoffensive, how could so many people still believe and be affected by the tarantula syndrome? The
mistake of past researchers in their pursuit of truth is that their debates focused exclusively on
dismantling the myth through scientific investigations; surely a wrong approach. What was lacking
was the view of a broader perspective, realizing that what tarantism actually involved was in fact far
beyond its aesthetic surface: everything almost functioned as a mask protecting some very delicate
facets of society.
As Serao ironically expressed at the end of his work, the people of Apulia have the venom within
themselves.
12
These men and women were not victims from the bite of an animal, but people trapped
in the web of human society. Exploitations of labour work, sexual abuses, abortions, forced
weddings... the real cause was within their existential conditions. In truth, the poisonous spider was a
symbolic image of their malaise. Everything served as a justification of their behaviour, a precaution
to remain within a coherent situation. It was a way of avoiding what might have been considered
unacceptable during those oppressing times. Dancing through the music was a way of freeing up, even
momentarily, from the psychological chaos caused by their difficult life conditions. This clarifies why
symptoms often reappeared and why women were primarily affected. As for Saint Paul, it was a way
for the Church to erase any form of paganism by polarizing the rituals towards itself.
13

Venom or not, music still played the most important role; only tarantellas seemed to create the right
sounds to sensitize and inspire movement. The instrumentation involved already provided helpful
elements in this: the energizing rhythms of the tambourine, for example; reason for which, although
each tarantella varied in the combination of instruments depending on the availability of players in the
city, the tambourine was at all times a requirement. The long, rapid melodic lines were usually played

10
CosLanza lnLlmalll, A1(75B0%(/@2(C.&5 (llorence, 2007), p.23.
11
lbld., p.28.
12
lbld., p.43.
13
ue MarLlno, 45(62&&5(,21(7"8%&#%, p.128.
by the hypnotising sound of a violin or a guitars enchanting tones, once again creating captivating
textures.
Tarantellas also involved singing at times. Just as each Italian city varies in its vernacular language,
different tarantellas also employed different dialects in their lyrics, according to their location. Lyrics
generally orientated their content towards Saint Paul and the tarantula, but not exclusively.
Interestingly, these also often reflected the social issues hiding behind tarantism:

Ci taranta lassala ballare
ci malencunia cacciala fore.
Ahi ahi...

( ... )

E dici ca nu me voi ca nu su bella
ca a lauru amante ni paria na stella.
Lu bene ca te vosi nina mia
nu te lu vose la tua cara mamma.
Na ni na
Ballati tutti quanti ballati forte
ca la taranta viva e nun morta.

If its a Taranta, let it dance
If its melancholy, come out with it.
...



You say you dont want me cos Im not beautiful,
Nevertheless I seem a star to my old lover.
I loved you so much, my Nina,
Maybe more than your mother did.
...
Dance you all,
Cos Taranta is alive and not dead.
Narrations varied in their contexts, at times even involving sexual allusions such as abuses at work,
for example:

Fimmine fimmine ca sciati allu tabaccu

ne sciati doi e ne turnati quattru.

Women, women, you go working in tobaccos
fields
You go two at time and you come back in four.


The following extracts are contemporary transcriptions from some of the widespread tarantella songs
of the Salento actively performed nowadays.
14
The lyrics used today however are not only a
development from those of the past ones, but they actually include some of their passages. This may
seem contradictory to the improvisatory nature of tarantellas earlier discussed; yet its explanation
finds justification. By taking a look at contemporary tarantellas, the frequent appearance of certain
sets of phrases, yet enfolded by varying versions of lyrics, leads to the assumption that words were
often shaped around these main couplets, phrases which gained popularity over the years and
established in the core of tarantellas, making their way from generation to generation right up to our

14
uanlele uuranLe, <95&$"$%:(A%(72#$%(D."((Lecce, 2003), p.146.
days many of the titles today assigned to various tarantellas in fact base on those couplets.
Remaining verses were either improvised or adapted according to the circumstances and the
performers interpretation. It would certainly be interesting to investigate the extent of similarities
between ancient and modern versions through a direct comparison, yet this is obviously not possible
due to a lack of written evidence. An example of a 1600s refrain still widely used today can however
be found in Athanasius Kirchers section on Tarantism in his work Magnes.
15


Add ti pizzic la tarantella?
sotto la putia de la unnella.

Where did the Taranta pinch you?
Under the hem of the skirt.
Nonetheless, tarantellas remained a flexible frame to be shaped by musicians through the spontaneity
of their performance.
In spite of the large assortment in melodic and rhythmic adaptations, such variety did not prevent the
genre from establishing some forms of conventions, a sort of individuality connecting tarantellas to its
locality. If a step from city to city in the Salento is enough to often perceive some difference in the
varying dialects nuances, the expansion of tarantellas outside Apulia marked even stronger
distinctions in their music. It is important to draw attention to the fact that although tarantellas
originated as the Salentos spider dance, this music was also simply performed in festive occasions
and family gatherings as a form of enjoyment and cheerful social dancing. Out of the region, these
seem to have developed as such, and there is generally no relation whatsoever to the spider myth, or at
least not as heavily emphasised. In some cases, offspring of the dance also adopted new titles siding
or substituting the name of tarantella, in order to accentuate a certain divergence and an autonomic
expressivity; the Naples Tammurriata, or the Sicilian Saltarello, to name a few.
16

Probably due to its aural aesthetic, for various years the genre has been unfairly neglected in
literature, inhibiting our historical knowledge and, alas, preventing from moving beyond generic or
hypothetical conclusions regarding the various stages of its growth and development. Contradictorily
enough, a new aesthetical form of tarantellas increasingly attracted the attention of critics and
composer, progressively mutating the folk dance into totally different contexts: piano works, other

13
ue MarLlno, 45(62&&5(,21(7"8%&#%, p.370.
16
Alba C. naccarl, 42(E"2(,2115(F50>5 (SegraLe, 2004), p.37.
instrumental music or operatic pieces. A new genre began to enrich concert halls in a new, colourful
variety of repertoire.
Chapter Two


2.1 Tarantellas as Art Music in the Concert Hall

The exuberant appearances of tarantellas in the concert hall initially occurred as a new influence
towards previously existing musical genres. What initially disguised as a tempo marking, or a brisk,
lively movement of a sonata or larger scale works, later detached as a fully independent genre in the
Nineteenth Century, increasingly gaining the appreciation of audiences, as much as composers. An
exception from this developing process, however, is amongst the very first forms of notated
tarantellas found in Kirchers Magnes: these were expressly written in relation to the myth, rather than
standing as compositional works of conventional purposes. Other than conveying his knowledge on
tarantism, Kircher encloses the Antidotum Tarantulae; eight simple, brief musical anecdotes which
the scholar suggested as possible musical remedies in the unfortunate case of being bitten by the
tarantula (an example is illustrated in Fig. 2.1). All but one of these make use of a duple metre, an
eight-beat melodic line with caesura on the fourth and resolution at seventh or eighth. Such musical
extracts appear to be inspired, perhaps even transcribed, from songs used in the cure of tarantism in
the 1600s.
17


1
Lrlch SchwandL, '1aranLella', *+)%&,(-.#"/(*01"02, [01 Aprll 2012]
<hLLp://www.oxfordmuslconllne.com/subscrlber/arLlcle/grove/muslc/27307>

Fig. 2.1 Antidotum Tarantulae,
Illustration in Kirchers Magnes (1673), p.874.

Taking a look at another of his antidotes, the Primus, Secondus and Tertius Modus Tarantella (Ex.
2.1),
18
it surprisingly provides the overall harmonic and melodic base in the arrangements of what
today is known as the Tarantella del Gargano, nowadays vividly performed in Apulias festive
occasions. A recorded arrangement made by the folk group Arakne Mediterranea in 2002
19
actually
makes use of Kirchers melodic line (a), (b) and (c) as an introduction to the piece. This is played
exclusively by a solo violin over the beat of castanets, which removes the antiquated flavour created
by the supporting bass line:

Ex. 2.1 Antidotes from Kirchers Magnes (1673), p.761.

18
klrcher ALhanaslus, -5B02#(#"G2(F2(;&$2(-5B02$"/5((8oma, 1641), p.761.
19
Appendlx 2, 1rack 1.

The main Gargano theme immediately follows, along with the entrance of guitar, voice and other
supporting instruments. As shown in Figure 7, the bass line uses the harmonic ending of Kirchers
theme highlighted in red (AmDmEAm), despite the small rhythmic alteration. The harmonic
framework of modern arrangements slightly varies in places to reflect a contemporary musical style;
yet overall, there is a strong connection between the two versions.

Ex. 2.2 Main tune and bass line of the Tarantella del Gargano.


The Gargano region is situated in North Apulia; its tarantella differs from the faster and longer
hypnotic melodies found in the Salento region.
The astonishing similarities between the two inevitably lead to a curious inquiry: questioning whether
Kirchers version was actually notated from a folk tarantella played at the time, or if the folk

!"#$%!)%) - ArLlcle from 6@2(-.#"/51(H%&1,3(
F2/28I2&(JK3(JLMNO
arrangements of this were made following his work. It would be an extremely interesting factor, yet
history is unfortunately unable to provide an answer. Nonetheless, such relation shows an incredibly
close correlation between the Seventeenth Century and our time, greater emphasising the strong role
aurally handed down traditions played and continue to play in this music.

Stepping back to the development of
tarantellas within composers repertoires,
we have earlier mentioned that their
appearances in compositional works were
not as explicitly revealed at first. An early
Eighteenth Century influence from
tarantellas apparently even affected one of
Johann Sebastian Bachs fugues. An 1874
performance review shown in Figure 8,
20

mentioned the performance of a Fuga alla
Tarantella, later specified as the A Minor
Prelude and Fugue; to which of Bachs A Minor fugues the article refers to, however, is not specified.
In this respect, a listening through Bachs Prelude and Fugues in this key, BWV 894 certainly stands
out from the others. In addition to a rapid, energetic melodic line, the fugue contains frequent
statements of the main theme in the tonic (folk tarantellas tend to lack complex modulations and
generally prefer the home key throughout); and most interestingly features a continuous, restless
triplet motion, extremely typical of tarantellas found in both non-folk and Salento folk versions. We
have therefore enough elements to narrow choices down to BVW 894:

Ex. 2.3 BWV 894, J. B. Bach.

20
6@2 -.#"/51(H%&1,3(vol.42 (London, 1864), p.811
!
"#$%!)%* - ArLlcle from 6@2(6"82#3(
P.1'(QL3(JLRMO






In the work just mentioned, the term tarantella described a genre, rather than defined it. We have seen
how features were incorporated as part of the fugal style.
Similarly, the transition between the
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century saw more
genres influenced by the tarantula dance;
from the last movement of Mozarts
Symphony No.34, a 6/8 Allegro Vivace, to
Beethovens Op.47, Kreutzer Sonata for solo
violin, with a virtuosic third movement in
Rondo form, numerous genres gradually
experimented by means of a tarantella style.
It would not have been difficult to predict that
few years later the blossoming of the
Romantic Movement would have brought tarantellas as a fully revived genre and an autonomous
concert piece. Many composers, for example Liszt, Thalberg and Heller, favoured the dance and
produced multiple works of this vein, increasing its popularity to an enthusiastic audience which
showed great interest and enjoyment in the genre. An extract from The Times (Fig. 2.3)
21
in 1836
reviews a tarantella piece as the central attraction of the night.

21
'klng's 1heaLre', 8evlews, 6@2(6"82# (!uly 08, 1836), [november 14, 2011] <hLLp://www.gale.cengage.com>

In order to get a wider view of what role the tarantella played as a genre and within the wide Art
Music repertoire, a modest collection of tarantella works up to the end of the Nineteenth Century has
been created for the purpose of this study.
22
Today we are found with incredible works from the past,
yet such tarantellas are often scarcely noted in history and not as well-known as they deserve. A
collection of past tarantellas has never been created, excluding the greatly limited Websters Timeline
History edited by Professor Parker, which chiefly focuses on tarantellas within literature and lacks an
important number of the musical works composed thus far. The list found in Appendix 1 by no means
includes every single work, yet chronologically discusses the chief works of the genre along with
numerous informative details which enable some remarkable analytical exploration and comparisons.

First of all, the choice of instrumentation is surely an important facet of a compositional work. Using
our table, the summing up of the instrumentation employed in the different categories results in the
following outcome:

Fig. 2.4 Percentages of instrumentation used for tarantellas.
(Appendix 1)



The chart in Fig. 2.4 shows that over half of the works were composed for piano. It is an important
percentage, although partly influenced by the fact that our work list mainly involves Nineteenth

22
See Appendlx 1.
Century works, when the popularity of the piano increased to its peak; however, the choice could also
have fallen on the instrument due to its musical accomplishment, allowing certain features of the folk
versions to be more easily transferable: the capability of creating harmony and melody in a single
device, for example, as well as being able to capture a big range of sound nuances, techniques and
textures.

Another significant choice of composers to be noted is the position of a tarantella within a multi-
movement work, such as sonatas, suites or symphonies. This is illustrated in the graph below (Fig.
2.5), indicating 0 as the initial piece and 1 as the last. It is possible to see how, being a fast, lively
movement, results firmly concentrate a choice for the last movement within a larger work.

Fig. 2.5 Percentages of instrumentation used for tarantellas.
(Appendix 1)

The works positioned in the left extremity of this graph are a rare deviation due to a lack of relation
between works in a larger collection of studies composed and grouped together. These have however
been included as a representation of possible exceptions within the overall repertoire of tarantellas.
The folk tarantellas performed in the treatment of tarantism involve a high use of minor keys, unlike
the tarantellas played as a form of festive dance which, reasonably, generally employ a major key; an
interesting percentage of the composed tarantellas however seems to reflect their dark side more than
the cheerful, festive version (Fig. 2.6).


Fig. 2.6 Percentages of major/minor keys employed.
(Appendix 1)

Amongst the minor keys, A minor seems the most frequent, occupying 31% of the overall key used
and 44% of the minor keys. Similarly, the therapeutic tarantellas registered by De Martino in his 1959
field research study in the Salento, made a great use of the A minor key, as well as B minor, D Major
and A Major, the tonalities which according to musicians tarantula victims were more easily
stimulated to dance by.
23
This coincidence may not be merely accidental: the music composed once
again mirrors the characteristics of the folk tarantellas.

A striking finding from the collected tarantellas is that composers occasionally give details on the type
of tarantella by specifying its location; these are usually Naples or Sicily. Rossinis La Danza, for
example, is often regarded as Tarantella Napoletana, or Maurice Strakoschs, Tarantella Siciliana.
Composers were probably aware that South Italy embraced a variety of tarantellas, yet were they as
equally aware of the differences distinguishing them? These are undoubtedly issues worth some
attention.


2.2 Musical Influences: The Tarantella of Salento, Naples and Sicily


23
ue MarLlno, 45(62&&5(,21(7"8%&#%, p.360.
The locations in which folk tarantellas developed had a significant impact on their styles; different
tarantellas were individualised within the genre, each marked by distinctive rhythmic, harmonic and
melodic features which differentiated their musical character. As for any musical style, traits may
merge into each other; there are no rigorous requisites, nor clear cut lines between the style of one
tarantella and another. The following chapter will however attempt an analytical exploration into what
are the prominent characteristics which conventionally define their identities.
In addition, a critical comparison to compositional works of the Nineteenth Century will be attempted,
carefully investigating the extent to which folk qualities have been preserved. For this purpose,
contemporary arrangements of folk tarantellas will also be used, as well as audio recordings and
transcriptions of live performances by traditional therapeutics from the latter century.
24
Although this
comes into conflict with the fairness of the evaluation, the lack of practical resources regarding folk
music of the past does not permit many alternatives. Nonetheless, we have previously explored the
effectiveness of handed down transmission and the way music still strongly bonds to the past; several
elements in the music should therefore counterpoint their ancestors. Awareness in the differences of
era will however be kept vividly throughout.

Tarantellas from the Salento can arguably be regarded as the original or possibly most well-known
version of this music, due to its origins and to its local, vibrant performance activities vigorously
maintained right up to our days. As these commonly relate to tarantism and the spider, music prefers
faster tempos and a driving, pulsating percussion beat.
The time signature features predominantly a 4/4, as also resulted from De Martinos findings (one of
his transcriptions of a domiciled tarantella therapy is shown in Ex. 2.4).
25
This is, in fact, also the
meter employed by Kircher in his Antidotum.


24
Appendlx 2.
23
ue MarLlno, 45(62&&5(,21(7"8%&#%, pp.331-333.

Ex. 2.4 Transcription of a tarantella therapy performance,
Nard, 26 June 1959.

Triplets in the melodic line are extremely popular, particularly when a violin is involved. There is also
a high use of dotted rhythm figures, such as the quavers in the guitar and tambourine parts, often
maintained throughout the entire duration of the performance. Triplets can also be found in various
tarantella compositions; an incessant run of triplets alternating between Treble and Bass clef is found
in Thalbergs Op.75 No.5 (Ex. 2.5) over a 2/4 time.



Ex. 2.5 Penses Musicales, No.5, Op.75, S. Thalberg.


The time signature most frequently found in compositions is however 6/8 meter. This perhaps aimed
at accommodating the long triplets run as a simpler grouping of three quavers, but not necessarily.
Their choice might have been the influence of other versions of tarantellas.
Three-groupings are actually an important rhythmic figure in tarantellas. The maintenance of the
pulse by the tambourine is executed in two ways: a strong attack, achieved by a stroke of the hand in
the central area of the instrument, or a rolling of the hand on the surface producing a longer, rattling
sound. By aligning the alternation of strong and weaker attacks amongst the succession of strong-
weak patterns occupying most of the percussive accompaniment, we sometimes come across the
following alternation:


Fig. 2.7 Tambourine strong/weak attacks.


The succession of strong attacks gives a further push to the drive of the music. As tarantellas progress,
a longer succession of strong beats are played, generally from the middle section and at the closure of
the performance; tension and energy are heightened like small climaxes in the music, subsequently
relaxed by a return to the usual strong-weak alternation.
The peak frequency spectrogram in Fig. 2.8, produced from the first minute and a half of a recent
popular festival recording with the violinist Mauro Durante,
26
enables a clearer view of the frequency
of these strong attacks. The long vertical lines represent the steady, strong beats of the tambourine; as
the music moves forward denser sections of strong beats appear, gradually increasing their lengths,
with the longest succession usually kept for the end. With the heightening of tension, the melody
involved higher pitched notes, as indicated by the blue box.

Melodic lines, when played by violin or guitar, are often long, rapid, and involving virtuosic abilities
by the player something which again we find in the tarantellas of the Romantic repertoire. Another
frequent characteristic of the melody is the repetition of a single pitch with the alterations of upper or
lower auxiliary, sometimes not only used for embellishment, but creating the impression of an
independent melodic line over a pedal note. An example of this is found at a later stage of De
Martinos transcription earlier mentioned:




26
Appendlx 2, 1rack 2.




Ex. 2.6 Live tarantella transcription,
Nard, 26 June 1956.





Figure 2.8 Peak frequency spectogram of a tarantella performance.
(Appendix 2, Track 2)

In spite of the wide usage within Salentos tarantellas of the melodic device just mentioned, it seemed
a less favoured choice by composers. Even if looking specifically at violin compositions of
tarantellas, the repetition of a single note rarely exceeds the length of one or two bars. A possible
exception which contains textures very much alike is Mertzs Op.13 guitar tarantella; however, due to
the nature of the instrument and its techniques, this pattern is extensively used in guitar music and
easily found anywhere in their repertoire; it is therefore not a coherent example.
Highly exploited in both folk and non-folk contexts, instead, are downwards scalic figures; composers
at times replaced the original diatonic folk version (Ex. 2.7) to chromatic runs (Ex. 2.8):


Ex. 2.7 Diatonic pattern, transcription of Appendix 2, Track 2, 0:33.




Ex. 2.8 C Minor Sonata, fourth movement, D.958, F. Schubert.


The folk tarantellas pertaining to Naples share very different aspects with respect to the musical traits
of the Salento. Unlike the previous case, the time signature prevailing in Neapolitan tarantellas is 6/8;
although tempo maintains energy, the aforementioned is not as quick-paced. Melodic lines are much
more colourful and songlike; lyricism is actually a strength which has always stood out in Neapolitan
traditional music.
Harmonies explore a richer variation, unlike Salentos tarantellas which heavily base on the
succession of chords I and V. The simplicity and predictability of the tonic-dominant harmonic frame,
however, enabled a freer melodic improvisation from the players; something which the framed chord
progressions exemplified in Ex. 2.9 may obstacle. The music presents a much more fixed, structured
arrangement during its performance; a more limited degree of improvisation perhaps based on the
rhythmic and ornamental level, rather than melodic.


Ex. 2.9 Transcription of the traditional Tarantella Napoletana.
27



The structure of this tarantella is a Rondo form, following ABACA rotations. This is also the structure
often employed by composers in their tarantellas, such as Schuberts last movement of the D.958 C
Minor sonata, or Wieniawskis Scherzo Tarantelle Op.16, to name a few.
A Neapolitan subgenre of the tarantella, as mentioned in our previous chapter, is the Tammurriata.
This style moves much closer to the Salento. Melodies and harmonies are still enhanced by the
Neapolitan influence; tempos are however faster, duple meter, with a strong, pulsating tambourine
beat, supported further by the crisp sound of castanets.
28
An interesting feature is the closure of the
final melodic arch through la rotata (the turn), the high point of the performance: a sudden
accelerando in the tempo, a brief yet energetic cadenza leading the music to the final cadence. The
increased intensity at the end of the piece not only reminds of the tarantism rituals, when the last
extreme forces culminate in the last steps of the dance; but this is also a performance convention in
the execution of Art Music tarantellas: scores always imply strong performance directions and
powerful dynamics, like con fuoco (with fire) markings in the coda, as found in Giuseppe Martuccis
Tarantella Op.6; in a decisive, fortissimo chordal ending (Ex. 2.10). Although indications of an
accellerando towards the ending are sometimes not specifically commanded in the score, many
professional performers appear to have the natural tendency of increasing their speed in the coda of
the piece.

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Slclallan +%,,%-.%-) on Lhe rlghL.
Ex. 2.10 Tarantelle, Op.6, G. Martucci


Sicily and its tarantellas stand a little further away from
Salento and the Tammurriata. The first, strongest
dissimilarity is the combination and difference in
instrumentation: the tambourine, although present, is not
as prominent within the ensemble; it accompanies and
supports, rather than guiding the music. There is a wide
use of marranzanu (Jews harp), also called
scacciapensieri (send thoughts away), and the friscalettu (Fig. 2.9), in addition to other local
instruments. Already the instrumentation suggests a much more carefree dance style and a cheerful
character, purely for festive occasions and social gatherings.
29


Taking a closer insight into the music, these tarantellas enhance the light-hearted spirit through a
jumping base line. The melodic line and base of a Sicilian tarantella is shown below:


Ex. 2.11 Transcription of Marranzanu, Tarantella Siciliana.





29
Appendlx 2, 1rack 3.
Like the Neapolitan tarantella, there is a frequent employment of 6/8 meters; the transcriptions of
Sicialian tarantellas found in De Giorgis Lestetica della Tarantella gives further support to this
point.
30

The chordal accompaniment of the ensemble, generally played by an accordion, is often in
syncopation to the percussion, playing every upbeat and pausing in the downbeats. Some versions,
however, make use of the dotted rhythm highly employed in the Salentos tarantellas:

Ex. 2.12 Possible rhythmic patterns by accordion/harmonic accompaniment.



We have therefore explored general traits which distinguish the three main types of Southern Italian
tarantellas. Their differences are made up of various, small details, yet the overall character changes
across each city: dramatic and energetic for the Salento, lyrical with colourful harmonies in Naples
and a playful, festive Sicilian dance. When a composition of the Nineteenth Century however
intentionally refers to one of these sub-genres, can there possibly be any direct relation to the
characteristics just listed above? After all, the association of a specific imagery with a piece of music
was a popular custom of the Nineteenth Century.
31
Hence, were these composers aiming simply at
extra musical meaning for programmatic purposes? There is only a very limited extent to which we
are able to provide a satisfactory answer, yet it is certainly worth the attempt.

Liszts supplement pieces Venezia e Napoli to the Annes de Plerinage, Deuxime Anne include a
tarantella with a Canzona Napolitana. The opening bars oppose the Neapolitan characteristics: these
are fast, Presto paced, in a dark G Minor key (Ex. 2.13). The composer himself however contradicts

30
lerpaolo ue Clorgl, /01#('("$%*2'&&%*3%,%-('&&% (CalaLlna, 2004), p.230.
31
8oger ScruLon, 'rogramme Muslc', 4567,2*8)#"$*4-&"-', [10 May 2012]
<hLLp://www.oxfordmuslconllne.com/subscrlber/arLlcle/grove/muslc/22394>
this character with a scherzando marking in bar 13. The 6/8 (2/4) time signature reflects the rhythmic
ambiguity which often oscillates between meters during live tarantella performances.

Ex. 2.13 Tarantella, S.162, F. Liszt.



Soon after the introduction, the change of texture with the entrance of a lively melodic theme, bar 38,
creates a more Neapolitan character in the music (Ex. 2.14). The staccato effect gives the impression
of a cheerful guitar, despite the minor key.

Ex. 2.14 Tarantella, S.162, F. Liszt.


This will however last only for the next sixteen bars before texture and melodic material shift again,
eventually back to darker harmonies. Greater lyricism is brought with the entrance of the Canzona
Napolitana in bar 201, which however loses the tarantella character. Only in the final return of the
tarantella, a carefree G Major, gradually leads to the coda in bar 449, an outburst of vitality, colourful
chromaticism which may be easily related to Neapolitan melodies.
Therefore, although the work has only been explored on a very broad basis, this brief overview
enabled an observation of the overall impression created by the piece. It has been possible to relate
few passages to the tarantella of Naples; these, in fact, owned a strong typical Neapolitan flavour
perceived through the chromatic enrichment of melodies and harmonies. On the other side, the
character of the piece encountered various divergences from the Neapolitan model earlier discussed.
The presence of dissimilarities between the two tarantella genres was obviously predictable, yet the
proportion of these is as interesting as it is puzzling: many divergences, yet few but very strong
Neapolitan related elements. The composer seemed to have an awareness of the Neapolitan character,
yet the extent remains unclear.

In search of further evidence, Strakoschs Sicilian tarantella will also be briefly explored. Throughout
the Romantic repertoire, Sicily is not as frequently mentioned as Naples; therefore, some relation to
Sicily is reasonably expected.
Tarantella Siciliana uses once again a 6/8 meter. In spite of the principal A minor key, the character
does not reflect the darkness of Liszts S.162; often, the minor key is even lightened by major
nuances, such as the rising demisemiquaver runs in the introduction (Ex. 2.15), as well as larger major
sections enclosed in the central section of the piece.

Ex. 2.15 Tarantella Siciliana, M. Strakosch.




The con fuoco marking is perhaps more reminiscent of the Salento tarantellas; nonetheless, the
preference of an Allegro pace in place of a Presto matches Sicilian tempos.
We have previously mentioned the characteristic jumping base in a typical Sicilian tarantella. This is
repeatedly found throughout the piece. The bass line in the opening theme surprisingly uses the same
fifth interval accompanying the Sicilian folk tune previously explored (AEAE sequence), although
the A in this case is an octave higher (Ex. 2.16).




Ex. 2.16 Tarantella Siciliana, M. Strakosch.



Also of interest are the choice of staccato lines, enhancing the playfulness of the music and even
resembling the rhythmic instrumentation of Sicilian tarantellas and distinguishes from the others, as it
excludes violin or vocal textures.
Further features are found later in the piece: as well as ornamented melodic lines, from upper
mordents to trills, bar 131 (Ex. 2.17) features a rhythmic accompaniment similar to the accordion
patterns earlier mentioned. The value in the note length may change, however they still involve dotted
rhythm feeling. The arpeggiated chord at the end phrase gives further embellishment to the phrase.


Ex. 2.17 Tarantella Siciliana, M. Strakosch.



The following tarantella captured much more the essence of what folk Sicilian tarantellas represent in
the folk tradition. Changes in texture are much more sectional than the sudden contrast in Liszts
S.162, which follows the folk structure, with returns of the main theme throughout. The composer
here appears to own a good knowledge of the folk style.

The risk of comparison between the work of composers and folk arrangements is not only the clear
difference in genre and purposes of the pieces, but also the degree of influence in the composers style
in his musical writing. If Sicilian aspects seemed to prevail more in the latter tarantella than the
Neapolitan features in Liszts work, it cannot be claimed that one composer was more aware of the
folk characteristics than the other. When musical qualities in a composition relate to the folk features,
there is clearly an amount of knowledge which the composer applies and manipulates. We might
never be able to know its extent; a notion may however be gained through an insightful biographical
research. It would nonetheless be erroneous to consider such features coincidental. The challenge lies
in their identification, particularly when obfuscated beneath the layers of the composers own writing
style, as well as the changes related to the adaptation of the music for a completely different
instrumentation. The choice in the emergence of these obviously falls onto the composer; yet a
musical distinction between the various tarantellas would provide further acquaintance and enjoyment
from an audience perspective, rather than a generalisation of the genre, something which often
happened in the compositions of the past, with the employment of the single title of Tarantella.











Chapter Three

3.1 Chopin and his Tarantelle, Op.43

Amongst the list of composers who dedicated at least one of their works to tarantellas, we find
Fryderyk Chopin. The incredible expressivity of unprecedented musical fantasy and an unmistakable
lyricism of bold, chromatic melodies successfully claimed the composer a leading figure of the
Romantic Movement, whose inestimable contribution included the well known nocturnes, numerous
polonaises and various mazurkas and etudes. Throughout his extensive piano repertoire, however,
Tarantelle stands on its own: Op.43 is not only an exception in its genre, but in terms of character too.
Following a brief historical analytical investigation, a localization of Chopins work within the folk
tradition will be attempted, in search of what inspired the composer and to what extent if any
features of the music follow stylistic conventions of a specific folk tarantella subgenre.

Chopins Op.43 was composed during the early summer of 1841. A previous sortie to Italy could have
been part of Chopins inspirational source to the bravura piece; major inspiration however derived
from La Danza, a vocal piece composed by Rossini few years before. The composer was in fact so
keen on Rossinis work that assigned to his factotum Fontana the task of verifying the works time
signature and conform the Op.43 accordingly, changing from the initial 12/8 to a 6/8 meter.
32

The work is actually not as well known and very little performed. Even during Chopins time, Op.43
was amongst the pieces which made sporadic appearances in programmes.
33
This is rather
surprising, in that the work not only presents enjoyable technical challenges from a performer
perspective, but can also create a pleasant listening experience to the listener. Although Chopin
himself disrelished the work, referring to it as that wretched Tarantella in one of his letters,
34

different sources positively refer to the work: an 1843 article from The Illustrated London News for
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example, reviewed the piece as sparkling animation and deliciously characteristic gaiety.
35
A
possible explication which is not to be excluded may be found in Samsons The Music of Chopin: the
author describes the way certain vernacular styles and genres, such as Chopins Tarantelle, meet the
demands of the salon on its own fairly shallow terms.
36
Perhaps a tarantella did not ideally match the
demands of a high class audience; however the increased in the number of composed tarantellas
throughout the Nineteenth Century certainly proves a degree of interest in the genre. Cases are
however to be taken individually, and Op.43 somehow remained unjustly latent in the performance
world, as it is still today.


Figure 3.1 Thematic outline of Chopins Tarantelle, Op.43.


The overall structure of Chopins Tarantelle grounds on episodic bases; each section encloses new
melodic material, at times also bringing a change in the texture of the music. From the thematic
outline of the piece illustrated in Fig. 3.1 (themes are illustrated in Ex. 3.2), it is possible to see that
the order of the subjects has a rather unusual arrangement. Theme A occupies the extremities of the
tarantella, whilst the subject with most frequent appearances is Theme D, sparse in the middle section.
With exception of C, F and a dramatic intensity at G, themes share similarities in both their character
and texture: a lyrical, tuneful melody over a continuous flow of quavers in the bass. Their calm, piano
dynamics however never fully last through sections: softer lyrical themes are always interrupted with
the abrupt entry of stronger themes or by the sudden, unexpected appearance of accented octaves.


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Ex. 3.1 Thematic material of Chopins Tarantelle, Op.43.



Interesting to notice that the length of each theme matches Kirchers Antidotum Tarantulae explored
in Chapter 2; with exclusion of theme D, whom ending of the phrase is extended for seven more
beats, all phrases follow a regular eight-beat span.
Another connection to the folk tarantellas, probably closer to the Salentos genre, the piece seems
much attached to the tonic key A-flat Major. Minor shades make their appearance in places, such as
the relative minor in themes C and D, or A-flat minor in the climactic theme G; however the home
tonality always prevails throughout. Nonetheless, the work certainly does not lack in harmonic
richness and vibrant chromaticism. Chopin actually makes extensive use of chromatic motions, not
only through falling and rising quaver runs, as in theme C, but also in the form of a subtle step motion
of the bass:




Ex. 3.2 Chromatic descent in the bass, Chopins Tarantelle, Op.43.

We have earlier mentioned the driving energy created by falling diatonic scales in folk tarantellas.
Similarly, the chromatic motion here employed by Chopin creates a strong sense of motion and really
pushes the music forward.

It is perhaps tempting to think that the simplicity of the single title Tarantelle reasonably leads to the
assumption that musical traits are centred towards the original Apulia version; this is however an
argument on which conclusions cannot be claimed, and would certainly result erroneous if taken for
granted. The title of a work may not necessarily reveal the entire musical content, and the absence of
any further specification certainly does not confirms the influence of a specific tarantella genre, other
than the commonly known version from the Salento.
Literatures viewpoints regarding Chopins work are rather contradictory between themselves: we are
at times presented with allusions describing the work as the frenzied spider dance,
37
therefore relating
to the Salento, against references which relate to a light-weight Sicilian influence.
38
To complicate
matters further, the piece to which Chopin so carefully regarded and inspired, La Danza, is a
Neapolitan tarantella, as declared in various literature. Therefore, which of the three styles can be
claimed to appear more prominently in Op.43? Just as for the process undertaken in our previous
chapter, the attempt of relating a compositional work to the folk genres will inevitably be affected by
an open portion of subjectivity due to the strong contextual differences. The interpretation of a piece
may vary with the individual, and what one may consider a prominent feature might not be regarded
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as such by another. With the effort of maintaining such exploration as much as possible through the
neutral lenses of a musical analysis, folk relations will be carefully considered.

We have already mentioned the stepwise chromatic bass notes of the initial theme. This alternates
with longer stays over a single pitch; the initial note of each beat is regularly repeated in an ostinato
effect. This point does not play in favour of the Sicilian tarantella style, which often comprise a
playful, bouncing fifth motion in the lower line. In fact, the overall character of the tarantella,
particularly with its contrasting, dramatic sections, diverges from the cheerful Sicilian dance. In
places, music even encounters sections of heightened tension through darker harmonies and powerful
dynamics. Therefore, we might as well exclude the possibility of a Sicilian influence. The remaining
choice fluctuates between a Neapolitan and a Salento influence.
The colourful melodies, clearly relate to Rossinis work, can be easily associated to a Neapolitan
fingerprint, although Chopin rhythmically preferred longer, smoother lines, a typical characteristic of
his style. Theme A seems a backward outline of Rossinis theme in the accompaniment line (Ex. 3.4).

Ex. 3.4 Melodic relation in the themes of Rossinis La Danza and Chopins Tarantelle.


Op.43 however turned Rossinis Allegro con brio into a Presto; fast paced works fit easier in the folk
Salento category, the restless spider dance.
Something extremely of usage in composed tarantellas are the introductory bars of the piece: few
preliminary measures which sometimes involve rhythmical ambiguity or even the use of unrelated
material to the rest of the piece. Chopin opens the tarantella with a bouncing E octave leap
establishing a rhythmic pattern which will be frequently used later in the music (Ex. 3.5). This is also
the rhythm so popularly used in the folk tarantellas.
Ex. 3.5 Opening bars of Chopins Tarantelle.


With some imagination, we could even relate the ambiguity of the opening to the music of the
tarantism therapists. Just as musicians initially looked for the right rhythm or melodic line to establish
a connection with the spider victim and induce the dance, composers could have intentionally
conveyed the folk characteristic in those introductory bars. The following supposition is however
purely hypothetical. As rhythm is immediately established in this case, we could also interpret as
being the notes of the first player in a folk tarantella ensemble, beating the time for the rest of the
group and preparing his co-performers for a start.

The salient moments in the music, the dramatic outbursts in the piece, can be once more related to
Apulia: these sections not only evoke the frenetic spider dance through a darker character, minor
tonalities and restless quaver runs, but also the place in which they occur throughout the piece find a
relation to the latter, reminding the tambourines gradual increase of tension-relaxation points, with
final outbreak at the end of the performance. Chopin also gradually introduces the darker features,
which eventually culminate in the climactic outburst of Theme G, bar 164. As music apparently
settles back again with a return of the initial theme, the coda will lead to a further increase of tension:
the final, powerful climax. The robust sonorities guide the music towards one of Chopins rare fff (bar
260),
39
before the final perfect cadence in the home key will bring the piece to a decisive ending.
Although the rotata in the Neapolitan Tammurriata also involves a sudden, faster closure of the piece,
the gradual increase in speed and tension during coda, through a Sempre pi animato e crescendo
marking, vividly provokes the imagery of the tarantatas final, extreme forces consummated by the
frenetic dance.
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We have therefore demonstrated the way folk Neapolitan and Salentos traits emerge in the course of
the piece. Although the work seems more inclined towards the Salentos tarantella, Neapolitan
influences are not to be excluded. The way the polish composer makes use of enriched harmonies for
example, at times with surprising twists, in accompaniment of fascinating lyrical melodic lines. One
genre does not exclude the other, and neither we are able of claiming a single, definite conclusion.

In respect of what we have categorized as problematic at the beginning of this study, in fact, we have
not considered the possibility that, as in this case, the generalised title Tarantelle appropriately
matches the work, in that characteristics of more than a single genre have drawn together into a single
work. In the case of the composer, intentionally specify the genre, we have shown that it is very likely
that a more explicit awareness of that style is deliberately applied. Therefore, everything connects
back to our starting point, but this time with the realisation that there can be further meaning behind
the composers choice of employing a single term. However, it is not to forget that regardless of the
level of awareness an individual may have in the different types of tarantella, every composer share a
common, simple objective: to enjoy, and let the music be enjoyed, and this should be the priority in
the performance, listening and exploration of music.











CONCLUSION
Throughout the following study has explored various aspects related to the musical genre
tarantellas. The mystical origins of tarantism have been explored, both through a historical
recount, as well as old scores and analytical approach to antique scores. Whenever possible,
relation between the folk and the classical contexts have been made, with the aim of
dissolving the line which too often separates the two musical genres. It has been possible to
distinguish specific features for the different types of folk tarantellas, and group the emerging
features into some models, to enable an easier comparison with the composed music, mainly
of the Romantic period. An analytical and critical approach to Chopins Tarantelle revealed
various interesting aspects of the music, particularly when these seemed to match with the
folk traits.
The work undertaken so far can be considered the onset point of a much larger scale research.
There are an incredible amount of music to analyse in greater details and a vast number of
ideas to be pursued. For example, tarantellas are also occasionally related to Spain. What
relation is there? Did tarantellas influence other musical genres overseas? Or again, are there
any exotic influences which affected of the music at the various stages of its development? A
relation to Greece could certainly be made for example, due to the close Geographical
position and historical relation to the country. Further research in the sources of the past
could, such as ancient scores, or the earliest recording of tarantellas would also reveal more
strands to follow. Also a deeper biographical knowledge of the composers would enable a
tracking of the influential source affecting their composition, and reveal how the Italian vain
came to take part in the composers style.
Since the initial point of this project, there was a clear realization of the problematic which a
comparison between so different contexts would raise. Time and source restrictions only
allowed a limited overview on the topic, yet wide enough to find an extremely interesting
variety of results, at times also rather unexpected, which not only expanded the overall
knowledge on the genre, but generated further interest and enthusiasm.






















Appendix 1
Chronological Collection of Tarantellas
Year Composer Work
Number
From / Title Movement Instrumentation Key
(*) L. M. Gottschalk Op. 67 Grande Tarantelle Piano and Orchestra A Minor
(*) S. Heller (18131888) Op. 53 Tarantella No.1 Piano E Minor
(*) C. Rossini (17921868) Tarantelle pur Sang Piano C Major
(*) L. Godowsky Tarantella, No.9 after Chopins Op.10
Etudes
Piano A Minor
(*) J. F. Burgmller! Op. 100 La Tarentelle Piano D Minor
(*) M. Strakosch (18251887)! Tarantella Siciliana Piano A Minor
(*) C. Baermann (18101885)! Op. 63 tude No.41, Tarantella Clarinet A Minor
(*) V. Lachner (18111893)! Op. 52 Impromptu and Tarantella 2/2 Piano A Minor
(*) I. Brll (18461907)
!
Op. 6 Tarantella Piano A Minor
1641 A. Kircher Eight songs to cure tarantism (in Magnes;
iii, chap.8)

1725 J. Sebastian Bach! BWV 894 Prelude and Fugue Alla Tarantella - Keyboard A Minor
1780 W. A. Mozart! K. 338 Symphony No.34 3/3 Orchestra C Major
1790 W. A. Mozart! K.593 String Quintet No.5 4/4 String Quintet D Major
1803 L. V. Beethoven Op.47 Violin Sonata No.9 Kreutzer Sonata Violin A Major
1822 C. M. von Weber Op. 70 Piano Sonata 4 / 4 Piano E Minor
1824 F. Schubert D. 810 Death and the Maiden Quartet (String
quartet No.14)
4/4 String Quartet D Minor
1828 F. Schubert D. 958 Sonata in C Minor Fourth Piano C Minor
1828 D. Auber La Muette de Portici (Masaniello) Act III Opera
1833 F. Mendelssohn Op. 90 Italian Symphony, Saltarello A Minor
1835 G. Rossini S.162 Les soires musicales : La Danza,
Tarantella Napoletana
8/12 Voice A Minor
1835 G. Verdi! La Forza del Destino Act III Opera C-sharp Minor
1838 G. Verdi! Les vpres siciliennes Act II Opera E Minor
1840 F. Liszt S. 159 Venezia e Napoli: Tarantelles Napolitaines 4/4 Piano G Minor
1841 F. Chopin Op.43 Tarantelle Piano A-flat Major
"#$!%!&'(')*'!+,-.!
1845 Felix Mendelssohn Op. 102 Lieder ohne Worte 3/6 Piano C Major
1848 S. Thalberg Op. 65 Tarantelle pour Piano Piano C Minor
1855 H. Wieniawski Op.16 Scherzo-Tarantella Violin G Minor
1855 C. Tausig! Op.2 Introduction and Tarantella Piano A Minor
1857 C. Saint-Sans Op. 6 Tarantella - flute, clarinet and
orchestra/piano
A Minor
1858 L. M. Gottschalk Op. 67 Clbre Tarentelle Piano and Orchestra
1859 F. Liszt S. 424 La Danza, Tarantella Napoletana (Rossini) 3/3 Piano G Minor
1859 C. Cui Op. 12 Tarantelle Orchestra G Minor
1859 R. Joachim! Op.85 6 Morceaux 6/6 Violin E Minor
1862 S. Thalberg Op. 75 24 Penses Musicales 5/24 Piano G Minor
1865 S. Heller Op. 85 Two Tarantellas Piano A Minor
Ab Major
1868 C. Saint-Sans Op. 22 Piano Concerto No.2 3/3 Piano Concerto G Minor
1871 R. Joachim! WoO.35 Italienische Suite 5/5 Orchestra D Minor
1873 G. Martucci! Op.6 Tarantella Piano B Minor
1879 A. Pieczonka Op. 6 Danses de Salon: !
-Tarantella in A Minor !
- Tarantella in E Minor

- 1 / 10
- 10 / 10

- A Minor
- E Minor
1880 D. Popper Op. 33 Tarantella Cello G Major
1885 F. Liszt S. 482 Tarantelle after Csar Cui Piano G Minor
1886 M. Moszkowski ! Op.27 Barcarole and Tarantelle 2/2 Piano G- flat Major
1890 C. Debussy L. 69 Danse (Tarantelle styrienne) Piano E Major
1890 E. MacDowell ! Op. 39 Twelve Studies: (2) Alla Tarantella 2 / 12 Piano C Minor
1899 P. de Sarasate Op. 43 Introduction and Tarantella Violin and orchestra C Major
1935 S.Prokofiev Op. 65 Musique d'Enfants 4/12 Piano
1846,
(Rev.
1869
F. Liszt S. 386 Tarantella di Bravura d'aprs la Tarantelle
de La Muette de Portici
Piano E Minor

Appendix 2
Tracks List


1. Tarantella del Gargano (Arakne Mediterranea)
2. Indiavolata (Live Recording at Notte della Taranta)
3. Tarantella Napoletana
4. Tammurriata
5. Tarantella Siciliana
!
!
!
!
!
!
!
!
!
!
! !
!
!
!
!
!
!
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