Balli Popolari in Abruzzo Vol 2

La Saltarella del Teramano

Taranta Ethnica TA011

Here is an excellent selection of field recordings for lovers of traditional dances and especially of accordion music.

Map of the areaSqueezed between influences from both northern and southern regions, roots music of central Italy still retains its own very specific features.  One such tradition is the saltarello dance, a common thread across the regions of Lazio, Abruzzo, Marche, and Umbria.  Probably its roots date back to the saltatio, a lively dance which was very popular since the early Roman days along with the ballicrepa and the chorea.  The Abruzzo region borders Lazio on its mountainous west side and the Adriatic Sea on its east side.  Here the saltarello becomes saltarella and is particularly linked to the ddu’ bbottë, a small diatonic accordion.  If Abruzzo has retained a rich variety of musical traditions this is largely due to the ddu’ bbottë which dominates also the 11th volume in the Ethnica Series by the independent Italian label Taranta.  Ethnica is dedicated to field recordings mostly by Giuseppe Michele Gala.  The 5th volume already presented an excellent compilation of saltarella and spallata dance music from the south-east of Abruzzo where the transition between tarantella and saltarella takes various forms.

This 11th volume is titled La Saltarella del Teramano, and is concerned with the northern part of Abruzzo, the area around the city of Teramo.  Gala presents here almost 80 minutes of music divided in 33 tracks recorded between 1983 and 1998, including enough over-70-years-old ddu’ bbottë players to risk a visit by Ry Cooder in an attempt to find his next Social Club.  However, some younger and very young musicians are also included and they seem to be able to match the old masters.  While in the south of Abruzzo the saltarella is often danced in small circles, around Teramo it is danced by couples to a relatively fast tempo.

Cover pictureNumerous variations and dances showing other influences are included such as Ballo della Sala (Hall dance), Ballo dell’Insegna (Banner/Flag dance), Laccio d’Amore (Ribbon of love), each of them calling for different interactions among the dancers.  The last one is also portrayed in the colourful picture of the front cover, showing how the dancers hold ribbons of different colours and cross each other’s paths while dancing around a pole where one end of the ribbons is nailed.  Once a Carnival dance, Laccio d’Amore is performed today during weddings and as folklore exhibition, not unlikely similar dances around the world – just think of black culture’s Palo de Mayo in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, to mention something not exactly around the corner!

The music also reflects other European influences, for example the schottische dance of the XIX century (Lu denzë), Photo of 'li tamurri'the quadriglia which was probably imported through Napoleon’s campaigns, valzer (waltz), polka, etc.  Along with a wide range of accordeon players and dance styles, the CD also includes three tracks performed by li tamurri, a group of four percussion instruments and a ciuffele (piccolo fife), an ensemble of military origins who is today performing religious and secular dance music.

play Sound ClipThe second and the last saltarellas on this selection also include the guitar.  In the first case it accompanies the art of accordeon player Fanciullo Rapacchietta, now over 80-year old (sound clip - Saltarella).

play Sound ClipIn the latter, it is part of a skilled young trio lead by a promising accordeon player from Penna S. Andrea, the 25-year old Franco Palumbo.  Saltarella is alive and kicking! (sound clip - Saltarella)  If you don’t have a trip to Abruzzo in sight, Taranta offers you a chance to get your share.

It's available from Felmay at:

Alessio Surian - 19.3.99

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