Tarantella: The Italian Folk Music You Need to Know

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Tarantella is a lively, fast-paced Italian folk dance usually accompanied by tambourine-like instrument and guitar. It’s the music you need to know!

What is Tarantella?

Tarantella is a fast-paced, whirling Italian folk dance usually accompanied by mandolins or guitars. The music and dance originated in the southern region of Italy, and the name “tarantella” comes from the city of Taranto.

Tarantella is said to have originated in the 16th century, when a tarantula spider bit a woman named Maria. The bite was said to be poisonous, and the only cure was to dance continually until the poison was sweated out of her system. Thus, the tarantella became known as a dance to cure the tarantula’s bite.

Over time, the tarantella evolved into a social dance performed at weddings and other celebrations. Today, Tarantella is performed by both amateurs and professionals alike, and is enjoyed by people of all ages.

If you’re looking to add some excitement to your next event, look no further than Tarantella! This lively folk dance is sure to get your guests up and moving.

The Origins of Tarantella

The tarantella is a folk dance that originated in Italy. The dance is usually in 6/8 time and is notebooked for both men and women. The name of the dance comes from the Italian word “tarantola”, which means “spider”. The dance is said to have originated in the city of Taranto, Italy.

The tarantella was originally danced to heal those who had been bitten by the tarantula spider. It was believed that the poisonous bite of the spider could be cured by dancing the tarantella. The poison would enter into the dancer’s sweat and be released from the body. The tarantella is still danced today, but more as a recreational dance than as a healing ritual.

The music of the tarantella is lively and upbeat. It typically features mandolins, guitars, accordions, and violins. The tarantella is usually a fast-paced dance, but some slower versions exist as well.

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

The Instruments Used in Tarantella

Tarantella is a folk music genre characteristic of Southern Italy. It is believed to have derived from the music of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and then evolved over the centuries with input from the Arabic and Spanish cultures. The most common instruments used in traditional tarantella are the zampogna (a type of Italian bagpipe), tambourine, accordion, violin, and mandolin.

The Different Styles of Tarantella

Tarantella is a type of traditional Italian folk music that is characterized by a fast pace and lively feel. There are many different styles of tarantella, each with its own unique history and sound.

The most well-known style of tarantella is the Neapolitan tarantella, which originated in the southern region of Italy around the city of Naples. This style is characterized by its use of mandolins, guitars, and other stringed instruments, as well as traditional Italian folk instruments such as the tambourine and accordion.

Other popular styles of tarantella include the Sardinian tarantella, which originates from the island of Sardinia, and the Calabrese tarantella, which comes from the Calabria region in southern Italy. Both of these styles are known for their fast tempo and lively feel.

In recent years, tarantella has become increasingly popular outside of Italy, with many different countries adopting their own versions of the music. In particular, the United States has seen a rise in popularity for tarantella music, with many American musicians incorporating it into their own unique style.

How to Dance the Tarantella

The Tarantella is a traditional Italian folk dance that is often associated with weddings and other joyful celebrations.

The dance originated in the southern region of Puglia, and eventually spread to other parts of Italy and beyond. The Tarantella is danced by couples, who hold each other tight and spin around in a fast, whirling motion.

The music of the Tarantella is just as lively as the dance itself, and often features accordions, mandolins, guitars, and fiddles. If you find yourself at an Italian festival or wedding (or even just listening to Italian music at home), be sure to listen out for the Tarantella – it’s impossible to resist moving your feet to this infectious folk music!

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