The Tarantella: Folk Music of Italy

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The Tarantella is a traditional folk dance from Italy. It is usually performed by a solo dancer, who dances to the music of an accordion or fiddle. The dance is said to be named after the tarantula spider, which is found in southern Italy. Tarantella dancing is said to be a way to cure the bite of the tarantula spider.


The tarantella is a folk dance in 6/8 time that is popular in the southern regions of Italy, especially in the provinces of Bari and Taranto. The music and dance date back to the Middle Ages, when they were thought to cure the Bite of the Tarantula (a spider found in the region). The name “tarantella” comes from the Italian city of Taranto.

The tarantella is usually danced by a pair of dancers, who hold each other’s hands and swirl around in a fast, spinning dance. The music is upbeat and lively, and often features accordion or fiddle.

If you’re ever in Italy during the summer months, be sure to check out a tarantella performance!

The Tarantella in Folklore

The tarantella is a traditional Italian folk dance that is said to cure those who have been bitten by a tarantula. The dance is characterized by a fast tempo and quick turns. It is often accompanied by tambourines and castanets. The tarantella is believed to have originated in the 13th century.

The Legend of the Tarantula

The tarantula is a large, hairy spider that is found in southern Europe, especially in Italy. The legend goes that if a tarantula bites you, you will dance uncontrollably until you sweat the poison out. This belief probably originated because the bite of the tarantula can cause fever and delirium.

The folk music of Italy is full of songs about the tarantella, usually sung by women who have been bitten by the spider. The most famous of these songs is “La Danza della Taranta” (“The Dance of the Tarantula”), which is said to be able to cure the bite of the spider.

The Use of the Tarantella in Folk Medicine

The tarantella was used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments believed to be caused by the tarantula spider. According to legend, if a person were bitten by a tarantula, the only cure was to dance the tarantella until they sweat out the poison. Throughout southern Italy, there are many stories of people being bitten by spiders and then saved by the power of music and dance.

There are also references to the tarantella being used as a cure for melancholy and boredom. In some cases, it was even prescribed by doctors! It was believed that the lively music and movement of the dance would raise one’s spirits and cure them of any negative emotions.

Whether or not the tarantella actually had any medicinal properties is up for debate. But there’s no denying that this magical folk dance has been entertaining people for centuries and will continue to do so for many years to come!

The Tarantella in Music

The Tarantella is a folk dance of Italy.It is a dance in 6/8 time, usually performed by couples. The music is fast and lively, and often has a strong rhythm. The dance is believed to have originated in the 13th century, and is still popular today.

The Origins of the Tarantella

The tarantella is a folk dance of southern Italy. The music is in 6/8 or 3/4 time and is characterized by a fast tempo and sharp, staccato rhythms. The dance evolved from a folk tradition in which young women who had been bitten by tarantulas danced to exorcise the venom from their bodies. In the 15th century, the Italian word “tarantola” came to refer to any spider, and eventually came to mean “dance.”

The tarantella is still danced today in Italy and other countries with Italian heritage. It is often performed at festivals and celebrations, and is sometimes accompanied by traditional Italian instruments such as the accordion, mandolin, fiddle, or tambourine.

The Structure of the Tarantella

The Tarantella is a folk dance of Italy that derived its name from the tarantula spider. The music for the Tarantella is characterized by a fast 6/8 time signature, with strong accents on the 2nd and 6th beats of each measure. The melodic motifs are usually fairly simple, and are often repeated throughout the course of the piece. The typical instrumentation for a tarantella includes mandolins, guitars, accordions, and percussion instruments such as drums or tambourines.

The Instruments Used in the Tarantella

The tambourine, guitar, and mandolin are the three traditional folk instruments used in the tarantella. The tambourine is a small hand-held drum with jingles attached to its frame. The guitar is a stringed instrument that is plucked or strummed. The mandolin is a small, eight-stringed instrument that is plucked with the right hand while the left hand moves up and down the fingerboard.

The Tarantella is a traditional Italian folk dance that has been around for centuries. The dance is usually performed by two people, and it is said to be a way to cure someone who has been bitten by a tarantula spider. The dance is very lively and upbeat, and it is often associated with festivals and celebrations. The Tarantella has also been featured in many popular movies and TV shows.

The Tarantella in Film

One of the earliest examples of the tarantella in film comes from the Italian movie, L’Avventura (The Adventure, 1960). The tarantella scene appears near the beginning of the film, at a party attended by the main characters. The tarantella in L’Avventura is performed by a group of dancers in traditional clothing. This clip is a good example of how the tarantella can be used to create a festive atmosphere in a film.

The tarantella also appears in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life, 1960). In this film, the tarantella is used to contrast the debauchery of Roman high society with the simple pleasures of life in the Italian countryside. The tarantella scene takes place at a country fair, where a group of young men and women dance together energetically. One of the men breaks away from the group and dances an improvised solo; his acrobatic moves are met with cheers from the other dancers.

The Godfather (1972) is one of the most famous films set in Italy and it features a memorable tarantella scene. In this scene, two rival mafia families come together for a wedding and they perform an energetic tarantella together. The dance starts out friendly but quickly turns aggressive as the two families start to battle each other with their dancing. This clip is a good example of how the tarantella can be used to create tension and conflict in a film.

The Tarantella Napoletana (also known as “La Danza”) has been featured in many films set in Italy or featuring Italian characters. Some other examples include: Moonstruck (1987), Only You (1994), Sabrina (1995), A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Life is Beautiful (1997).

The Tarantella in Television

The tarantella has been used in a number of popular television shows over the years. In some cases, the dance is used as a part of the plot, while in others it is simply used as a way to add some Italian flavor to the show.

One of the most famous uses of the tarantella on television came in the episode “The Singing Detective” from the show “Moonlighting.” In this episode, private detective Maddie Hayes (played by Cybill Shepherd) is suffering from amnesia and only remembers bits and pieces of her past. In one scene, she has a dream in which she remembers dancing the tarantella with her husband. This particular use of the tarantella is significant because it helps Maddie remember who she is and what happened to her husband.

The tarantella has also been used on “The Sopranos” and “Boardwalk Empire,” two popular shows that take place in New Jersey and feature Italian-American characters. On “The Sopranos,” mobster Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) is seen attending a wedding where the tarantella is being danced. And on “Boardwalk Empire,” one of the characters, Lucky Luciano (played by Vincent Piazza), can be seen dancing the tarantella with his girlfriend at a speakeasy.

In addition to these more dramatic uses, the tarantella has also been featured on lighter shows such as “I Love Lucy” and “The Gilmore Girls.” In both cases, the dance was used as a way to add some fun and excitement to an otherwise mundane episode.

The Tarantella in Literature

The tarantella has been mentioned in various works of literature over the years. Some notable examples include:
-The Inferno by Dante Alighieri (1321)
-The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (1353)
– Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto (1516)
-The Cornucopia by Giovanni Francesco Straparola (1550)
-La Bagarresca by Gian Giorgio Trissino (1565)
-The Last Night of Hippolytus by Pietro Aretino (1566)
-L’Orlando Innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo (1495)


The tarantella is a ancient folk dance that originates from the southern region of Italy known as Apulia. The dance is characterized by its fast-paced, lively tempo and is traditionally danced to upbeat, folk music played on traditional instruments such as the mandolin. The tarantella is a popular dance at Italian festivals and celebrations, and is also commonly performed at Italian-themed restaurants and events.

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