Saltarello marchigiano Print

The video clip available here below is a document that has been in my possession for a long time. Now that technology makes it so easy to share it, I wish to make it public. The sound and video quality is undeniably very poor. The shooting also very amateurish. Nonetheless, to the best of my knowledge this is the only available document of the "saltarello marchigiano". The Marches (or in Italian, le Marche) is the region whose main city is Ancona, and where this form of traditional dance was once widely practiced. When this video was made, in 1987, this for of dancing was already quite rare. And here now I need to tell how serendipitously it was made. I was visiting a friend in the lovely city of Fermo, Mario Ricci, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist now Emeritus Professor of the Conservatory of Pesaro. One day he told me a group of families in a nearby village was going to organize an evening where a few couples - those who still knew how to do it - were going to dance the "saltarello". I was happy for the opportunity and asked to be given a video camera. Mario Ricci and I, no professional cameramen by any stretch of the imagination, did the best we could under the circumstances. The result is what it is. I wish we could have done better. And yet this is a document which, I believe, may be of interest to scholars working on traditional music and dance in the Mediterranean area. As far as the music goes, ethnomusicologists familiar with Italy will probably notice some similarity with the music of the "pizzica taranata" that used to be played in the more southern region of Puglie, for the musico-therapeutic rituals of the tarantula. The diatonic accordion, to be found in so many European traditions, has been quite popular in the Marches. Contest and competitions are organized in the region where usually very young people participate and show off their virtuosity. The voice has the typical south of the Apennines color (no longer chesty and full as it is encountered in northern Italy), the "tamburello" (the drum) is played in a a very interesting manner that old-timers in the region could usually master. (Marcello Sorce Keller)


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In these fragments, besides the documentation of the saltarello and its typical steps of dancing, it seems to me very interesting the possibility to make some comparative remarks, related to other similar instrumental performances we can find in other regions of Central and Southern Italy. The Marche is the most Northern Italian region where the tamburello is documented; in fact this instrument is not present in the traditional music of the Pianura Padana and the Alps (expect for some special cases where it is used with different techniques, like in Cogne, Val D'Aosta). In the fragments we can see the technique of playing the triplets with the tamburello, obtained with the three strokes of the right hand, like in some regions of Southern Itay (Basilicata, Calabria, etc...); however, the movement and the position of the hand and the wrist is different from that used in other regions. It would be really interesting to have more information about this technique. (Nicola Scaldaferri, Dipartimento di Storia delle Arti, della Musica e dello Spettacolo, Università degli Studi, Milano, Italy)