Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sicilian Folk Music -- Let's Dance!

Sicilian folk music is joyful, upbeat, playful and fun.

I was recently enchanted by a group I saw performing at a festival in the town of Cesaro'. The colorful costumes, simple instruments, agile musicians and pairs of dancers were so lively and fun.   

Sicilian folk music and dance at Cesaro'

The high-pitched simple, flute, called the friscalettu is what caught my attention first. I was amazed by the quick moving fingers of the musician who played it and the intense, sing-song sounds being produced by this little instrument (have a listen!). 

The little flute: the friscalettu

The tambourine, or tamburello in Italian, is also a fundamental part of Sicilian folk music that is very familiar. Any tourist shop you visit here will have a rack of brightly painted tambourines for sale, dangling with with colorful ribbons and pompoms. Their drum-like, jangly beat is what kept the rhythm for the dancers, inviting us to bounce along with them. Have a listen!

Tambuourines, or tamburello in Italian, keep the beat

The accordion, no surprise, is a must for any Sicilian music group (have a listen!). 

But what really got my attention was the little thing the youngest member of the group was plucking in his mouth. All I could see was a little strip of metal sticking out from between his lips. A little research and I had the answer - that is the marranzano.  Have a listen to this totally unique sound! 

The accordion and the marranzano

In my research on these traditional Sicilian instruments I was inspired to draw. It's hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose one to learn to play, I think I would probably chose the friscalettu.

'Sounds of Sicily' travel sketch inspired by the musicians playing at Cesaro'.
You can check out more of my work here.

And finally, to hear all these sounds come together, check out this video. Doesn't it make you want to hop around and dance?