The Tarantella is an Italian dance, its name coming from the town of Taranto, where it originated. It is the most recognized of Italian music, and is the popular theme song of pizzerias and restaurants. Throughout Italy it is different with every region but has the same basic upbeat tempo.

Courtship vs tarantism dances

The stately courtship tarantella is danced by a couple or couples, short in duration, graceful and elegant, and features characteristic music. The supposedly curative or symptomatic tarantella is danced solo by a supposed victim of a "tarantula" bite, agitated in character, may last from hours to days, and features characteristic music. The confusion appears to arrive from the fact that the spiders, condition, its sufferers ("tarantolati"), and the dances all derive their names from the city of Taranto.Toschi, Paolo (1950). Proceedings of the Congress Held in Venice September 7th to 11th, 1949: "A Question about the Tarantella", "Journal of the International Folk Music Council", Vol. 2. (1950), p. 19. Translated by N. F.]

The first dance originated in Naples and the second in la Puglia. The Neapolitan tarantella is a courtship dance performed by couples whose "rhythms, melodies, gestures and accompanying songs are quite distinct" featuring faster more cheerful music. Its origins may further lie in "a fifteenth-century fusion between the Spanish Fandango and the Moresque "'ballo di sfessartia".'" The "magico-religious" tarantella is a solo dance performed supposedly to cure through perspiration the delirium and contortions attributed to the bite of a spider at harvest (summer) time. The dance was later applied as a supposed cure for the behavior of neurotic women ("'Carwevaletto delle donne'").Ettlinger, Ellen (1965). Review of "La Tarantella Napoletana" by Renato Penna ("Rivista di Etnografia"), "Man", Vol. 65. (Sep. - Oct., 1965), p. 176.]


Reportedly, victims who had collapsed or were convulsing would begin to dance with appropriate music and be revived. The music used to treat dancing mania appears to be similar to that used in the case of tarantism though little is known about either. Justus Hecker (1795-1850), describes in his work "Epidemics of the Middle Ages":

A convulsion infuriated the human frame....Entire communities of people would join hands, dance, leap, scream, and shake for hours....Music appeared to be the only means of combating the strange epidemic...lively, shrill tunes, played on trumpets and fifes, excited the dancers; soft, calm harmonies, graduated from fast to slow, high to low, prove efficacious for the cure. [Hecker, Justus. Quoted in Sear, H. G. (1939).]
The music used against spider bites featured drums and clarinets, was matched to the pace of the victim, and is only weakly connected to its later depiction in the tarantellas of Chopin, Liszt, Rossini, and Heller. [Sear, H. G. (1939). "Music and Medicine", p.45, "Music & Letters", Vol. 20, No. 1. (Jan., 1939), pp. 43-54. Note that Sear may mistake the Neapolitan and Puglian tarantellas and that those by Romantic composers to which he refers may have been intended as Neapolitan.]

While most serious proponents speculated as to the direct physical benefits of the dancing rather than the power of the music a mid-18th century medical textbook gets the prevailing story backwards describing that tarantulas will be compelled to dance by violin music. It was thought that the Lycosa tarantula wolf spider had lent the name "tarantula" to an unrelated family of spiders having been the species associated with Taranto but since the lycosa tarantula is not inherently deadly in summer or in winterRishton, Timothy J. (1984). "Plagiarism, Fiddles and Tarantulas", "The Musical Times", Vol. 125, No. 1696. (Jun., 1984), pp. 325-327.] , the highly poisonous Mediterranean black widow (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus) may have been the species originally associated with Taranto's manual grain harvest.

The Tarantella is a dance in which the dancer and the pianist constantly try to upstage each other by dancing longer or playing faster than the other, subsequently tiring one person out first.

"Grand Tarantelle" ballet

The Balanchine ballet "Tarantella" is set to "Grand Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra", Op. 67 (ca. 1866) by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, reconstructed and orchestrated by Hershy Kay. The nimble quickness of Tarantella provides a virtuosic showcase. The profusion of steps and the quick changes of direction this brief but explosive pas de deux requires typify the ways in which Balanchine expanded the traditional vocabulary of classical dance.

Instances in other settings and media

*The tarantella can be heard in the [http://www.pumafootball.com/buffon.jsp] Puma website.
*It has appeared in feature films such as "The Godfather". In "The Godfather II", Frankie Pentangeli tries to get the wedding band (who are not Italian) to play a tarantella. They end up playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" instead.
*Felix Mendelssohn wrote a piece called 'Tarantella' in 1845, otherwise known as Opus 102 No. 3
*A performance of the tarantella was central to the plot of Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House".
*David Popper wrote a piece called "Tarantella" Opus 33 written in 6/8 time with rapid moving notes and graceful yet quick double stops and arpeggios.
*William Henry Squire wrote a tarantella for cello in D minor.
*The final movement of Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 3 in D, D 200, although not explicitly called so, is a tarantella.
*Franz Liszt composed a piece called "Tarantella, Venezia e Napoli" (No. 3 from Les Années de Pèlerinage, 2nd Year: Italy), which is in a rapid tempo also in 6/8 time, although nowadays it is commonly misprinted as being in 2/4 time.
*Frédéric Chopin wrote a piece called "Tarentelle" (Opus 43), which has not only the characteristic 6/8 time signature, but also a very frantic and frenzied arpeggiated left hand part, representing the spinning nature of the dance.
*Leopold Godowsky transcribed Chopin's Etude Op. 10, No. 5 "Black Keys" into an extremely challenging tarentella for the piano.
*Sergei Rachmaninoff's Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos, Op. 17, features an extremely challenging and ferocious Tarantella for its finale.
*Gioacchino Rossini's song "La Danza" is a Neapolitan tarantella.
*Henryk Wieniawski composed a well-known violin masterpiece, called Scherzo-Tarantella (Op. 16)
*Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien" ends in a frenzied variation of a tarantella.
*"Tarantella" is the title of a well-known poem by Hilaire Belloc.
*"Tarantallegra" is a jinx in "Harry Potter" books which causes the opponent's legs to move rapidly and uncontrollably, first introduced in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets".
*In 1997 Avantgarde pianist Aki Takasi released her album called: Tarantella.
*Tom Waits mentions "tarantella" in the song "Tango Till They're Sore," which is in 6/8 time.
*It has been used as the theme song of the That's Life (2000 TV series) on CBS.
*The tarantella's theme can be heard in the "Puppy Love Levels" in Earthworm Jim 2.
*Featured in the 2004 AASCA Music Festival in San Jose, Costa Rica.
*The 1996 Film "Pizzicata", written and directed by Edoardo Winspeare features the local songs, dances and traditions of Salento in Southern Italy.
*Stephen Heller composed various Tarantella pieces during his career.
*Claude Debussy wrote a piece called "Danse (Tarantelle styrienne)."
*Gogol Bordello's album "Super Taranta!" uses Tarantella theme. The song "Santa Marinella" from their LP also touches with tarantella edges.
*The Nickelodeon children's cartoon The Backyardigans features tarantella music throughout the "The Legend of the Volcano Sisters" episode in season 2.
*In the musical Peter Pan with music by Mark "Moose" Charlap, captain hook calls out for his pirates to play a 6/8 tarantella which he leads while he forms a wicked plan.
* Pablo de Sarasate composed a piece for violin, Introduction and Tarantella.
*Tarantella is the name of an eau de parfum by Australian perfume house: Tommi Sooni
* "New Century's Tarantella" is the name of track 9 on the album, "Prophet of the Last Eclipse" by: Luca Turilli.
* The last movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Camille Saint-Saens is a tarantella.
* "Tarantella" for Piano and Orchestra was composed by American composer Michael Glenn Williams for pianist Sean Chen

ee also

*Contra dance
*Danse Macabre


External links

* [http://www.alessandrabelloni.com/ RHYTHM IS THE CURE]
* [http://www.sicilianculture.com/folklore/tarantella.htm Sicilian Culture: Tarantella Dance]
* [http://www.virtualitalia.com/articles/tarantella.shtml The tarantella dance!]
* [http://www.deliciousitaly.com/Calabriatour20.htm Dance the 'Viddaneddha']
* [http://www.artship.org/tarantella/tarantella.htm Tarantella, Tarantella]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tarantella — se puede estar refiriendo a: Tarantella, Inc., empresa de software de Santa Cruz (California), adquirida por Sun Microsystems. Tarantela, baile folclórico de origen italiano. Tarantela, obra de Fréderic Chopin. Esta página de desambiguación… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Tarantella — Tar an*tel la, n. [It.] (Mus.) (a) A rapid and delirious sort of Neapolitan dance in 6 8 time, which moves in whirling triplets; so called from a popular notion of its being a remedy against the poisonous bite of the tarantula. Some derive its… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tarantella — Tarantella, 1) in Italien eine Tanzmusik, welche den am Tarantismus (s.d. unter Tarantel) Leidenden u. in dieser Krankheit Tanzenden dabei aufgespielt wurde; sie zeichnete sich durch immer rascher werdendes Tempo aus u. hatte sechs verschiedene… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Tarantella — Tarantella, ein neapolitanischer, aber wahrscheinlich ursprünglich tarentinischer Tanz, wenn man nicht annehmen will, daß er seinen Namen von der Tarantel (s. d.) erhielt. Die T. hat eine äußerst geschwinde Bewegung (presto) und steht im 3/8 oder …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Tarantella — Tarantella, unterital. Tanz im 6/8 Takt, zum Tamburin getanzt …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • tarantella — → tarantela …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • tarantella — 1782, peasant dance popular in Italy, originally hysterical malady characterized by extreme impulse to dance (1630s), epidemic in Apulia and adjacent parts of southern Italy 15c. 17c., popularly attributed to (or believed to be a cure for) the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • tarantella — [tar΄ən tel′ə] n. [It, dim. of TARANTO: pop. assoc. with TARANTISM because of its lively character] 1. a fast, whirling southern Italian dance for couples, in 6/8 time 2. music for this …   English World dictionary

  • Tarantella — Die Tarantella ist ein aus Süditalien stammender Volkstanz. Sie zeichnet sich durch eine schnelle Musik im 3/8 oder 6/8 Takt aus. Athanasius Kircher (1641): Tarantella als Gegengift (antidotum tarantulae) Vermutlich wurde ihr Name von der Stadt… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tarantella — Ta|ran|tẹl|la 〈f.; , tẹl|len od. s〉 südital. Volkstanz im 3/4 od. 6/8 Takt [<ital. tarantella, vielleicht nach den heftigen Bewegungen eines, der wie von der Tarantel gestochen ist, od. nach der Stadt Tarent] * * * Ta|ran|tẹl|la, die; , s u …   Universal-Lexikon

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.