Tarantella: An Italian Folk Music Icon

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Tarantella is a traditional Italian folk music icon that dates back centuries. The music is fast-paced and lively, and often features a tambourine.

What is Tarantella?

Tarantella is a traditional Italian folk dance that originated in the southern region of Italy. The dance is characterized by its fast tempo and lively movements, and it is often accompanied by tambourines and accordions. The tarantella was traditionally danced to relieve the symptoms of a bite from the tarantula spider, which was believed to cause a dangerous illness known as tarantism. Today, the tarantella is performed for enjoyment and as a symbol of Italian culture and heritage.

History of Tarantella

Tarantella is a lively, upbeat Italian folk dance usually accompanied by tambourine-Heavy music with a quick tempo. It is popular in Southern Italy and bears some similarities to the Sardana of Catalan.

The history of Tarantella is long and convoluted, with many theories abound about its origins. Some say it began as a purification ritual among the ancient Greeks, intended to cleanse the body and soul of those bitten by the tarantula spider. Others believe it dates back even further to pagan fertility rites and was later adopted by Christians as a way to exorcise evil spirits.

Whatever its origins, there is no doubt that Tarantella has become an integral part of Italian culture. The dance is often performed at weddings and other celebratory occasions, and has even been featured in popular films such as “The Godfather” and “Moonstruck.” If you find yourself in Italy, be sure to give Tarantella a try – you’re sure to have a blast!

Tarantella Today

Although the music of the tarantella is now more commonly heard outside of Italy, the dance and the instrumentation are heard much less frequently. The tarantella is a folk music icon in Italy.

Tarantella in Italy

The tarantella is an Italian folk dance that likely originated in the 13th century. The dance is said to have been created as a way to cure tarantism, a demonic possession that was believed to be caused by a spider bite. The music and dance of the tarantella was thought to be so intoxicating that it would drive the spider out of the person’s body.

The tarantella is still popular in Italy today, although it has evolved significantly from its original form. The most notable difference is the addition of singing and clapping, which was not part of the original dance. Tarantellas are now typically performed as part of wedding celebrations, festivals, and other special occasions.

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

Tarantella in the United States

Tarantella arrived in the United States with Italian immigrants in the late 1800s and has been evolving ever since. The music and dance was originally designed as a way to combat a spider bite, with the rapid movement said to counter the slow-moving venom.

While that may be its origins, tarantella is now enjoyed as a festive way to celebrate life and culture. It is often performed at weddings, anniversaries, and other special occasions. The upbeat music and lively dancing is sure to get everyone out of their seats and moving.

If you’re looking to add some excitement to your next event, consider hiring a tarantella band!

How to Play Tarantella

The Tarantella is a folk dance that originates from Italy. It is a fast-paced, fun dance that is often performed at weddings and other festive occasions. The dance involves couples moving in a clockwise direction and involves a lot of twirling. If you want to learn how to play Tarantella, then you have come to the right place. This article will teach you everything you need to know about this beloved Italian folk dance.


The music of the tarantella is usually played with two instruments – the mandolin and the guitar.

The mandolin is a small, stringed instrument that is played with a pick. It has a high, light sound that is perfect for playing the fast, danceable tunes of the tarantella.

The guitar is a larger, stringed instrument that is also played with a pick. It has a deeper, richer sound that provides the perfect accompaniment to the mandolin.

Together, these two instruments create the lively, upbeat sound of the tarantella that will get your feet moving and your heart pumping!

The Music

Tarantella is a lively, fast-paced folk dance originating from southern Italy. The music is cheerful and upbeat, played on traditional instruments like accordions and guitars.

The traditional tarantella is in 6/8 time, with quick changes in tempo and meter. The dancers move around the room in a clockwise direction, circling around and around as they get faster and faster.

As the music builds to a climax, the dancers pair off and begin to whirl around together, spinning faster and faster until they reach a frenzied pace. At the end of the dance, the couples collapse into each other’s arms, exhausted from the exhilarating experience.

Resources for Learning Tarantella

Tarantella is a traditional Italian folk music icon. It is characterized by a fast tempo, lively rhythm, and simple melodies. Tarantella is often accompanied by dance, and it is thought to have originated in the 16th century in the southern Italian region of Puglia. The music and dance of the tarantella have been popularized by numerous folk groups and artists, including theItalian-American singer-songwriter Fiorello LaGuardia.

If you’re interested in learning tarantella, there are a variety of resources available to help you get started. One good option is to take an online course offered by the nonprofit organization Folk Arts Ruturna (FAR). FAR’s Tarantella Basics course covers the history and origins of tarantella, as well as basic musical concepts and terms. The course also includes video lessons on how to play selected tarantella tunes on the mandolin and accordion.

Another excellent resource for learning tarantella is the website Tarantella Lessons (tarantellalessons.com). This site offers video lessons on how to play various tarantella tunes on the guitar, mandolin, accordion, and fiddle. The lessons are taught by professional Italian folk musician Giovanni De Simone.

In addition to online resources, there are also several books that can help you learn to play tarantella music. One recommended book is How to Play Tarantellas: A Guide for Traditional Musicians, by John Di Leonardo. This book provides an overview of tarantella history and traditions, along with step-by-step instructions for playing selected tunes on the guitar, mandolin, accordion, and fiddle. Another helpful book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Tarantellas, by Maria Grazia Usai-Fortunati. This book features detailed illustrations and clear explanations of how to execute various tarantella moves on the dance floor.

Similar Posts