Dances were usually accompanied by a diatonic melodeon player, a tambourine player and a “castagnola” (castanets) player. The party ended with one or more “quadriglie”.
Among dance music we must quote the “tarantella” or the “pizzica pizzica”, played both as an entertainment dance and to heal from the bite of the “tarantola”, a highly poisonous spider.
The tarantella “knife dance” was also common, a fighting dance danced only by men, who used two fingers of the right hand to simulate a knife, and parried with left arm.
Other dances dating back to 19th century danced in this area are the “quadriglia”, the “polka rossa”, and the “scotis” (or “scozje”). The “scozje” is a couple dance, danced in pairs following set patterns: four steps to the left, four to the right, two to the left, two to the right, and a turnaround. The music was sometimes accompanied by singing as well.
As for the musical instruments, it’s important to underline the importance of the tambourine and of the “castagnola”. The “castagnola” is a reciprocal percussion idiophone instrument, with undetermined intonation, formed by two small hardwood tablets which are hit one against the other and resonate with a sharp and dry sound. The two tablets are tied to each other to one extremity with a piece of string. In the “Murgia dei Trulli” it is held in one hand and played with thumb and fingers of the other hand. Sometimes jingles or small bells are tied to the “castagnola” and inside the tambourine.
A relevant part of the repertoire in the Murgia is just sung without the accompaniment of any instrument. Some songs are polyvocal (in two parallel parts) and other are monodic. Polyvocal tunes were used mainly for religious and work songs.
The first voice, “cherë ca pëgghjevë ‘nnendë” (the one who started the singing), used to sing the leading melody and usually sang alone during the first part of the verse. The second voice, “menë sopë” or “a suprene” (the one that goes higher or soprano), sang with an interval of third or sixth to first voice. The other voices doubled the first voice, but often inexperienced singers doubled the second voice, too.
Monodic songs were used mainly for love songs, serenades, lullabies, and “stornelli”, short popular lyrics usually improvised.
This CD presents an anthology of different singing techniques and instrumental dance music, which represent the main expressive forms of the “Murgia dei Trulli”, a culturally homogeneous area situated among the provinces of Brindisi, Bari and Taranto.