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I Tarantolati di Tricarico, La taranta.
translated by Francesco Semisa

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Primitive folk sounds, practices, mesmerizing rhythms
that blend with ancient and evocative movements of the tradition.


onomatopoeically named, the Cupa Cupa makes always the same sound, from which it took its name. In this, it lays the ability of the musician to produce a varying rhythm from that only note. The Cupa Cupa is a folk music instrument, built from a container, usually made in terracotta, covered by a fabric or membrane and a long and skinny stick. The stick is tied in the middle of the membrane, which wraps around the stick. The membrane can be made out of different materials, depending on where the instrument is located. The sound is made by rubbing the hang against the stick, allowing the stretched membrane to vibrate. In order to play the instrument, the membrane is dampened with water, and the player rubs his wet hands against the stick.
The birth of the Cupa Cupa was improvised just as much as the performances that the instrument accompanies. The Cupa Cupa is not only an instrument but an icon at the same time, like the stick made of oat played by Titiro in the Bucoliche “Silvestrem tenui musam meditaris avena”.
When the celebration was over, so was the Cupa Cupa, with the hope of building a brand new one, as a way to celebrate the continuity of life, embodied by the continuous movement of the hand that to our society might seem obscene, but to our ancestors meant the only prosperity they could reach, their progeny.


literally, a bottle and a wrench, it consists in a double bottle hit by a wrench, open on the upper end. The player would then hold the wrench with his right hand’s fingers and he would rhythmically hit the bottle which would be inclined 45°.


this instrument is made of a single animal skin mounted on a wooden ring in which are carved small metallic cymbals. The animal skin must be previously wetted and, as it dries up, it reaches the necessary tension to make the desired sound. This instrument is very typical of the folk tradition, having remote origins: it probably existed in the second millennium B.C. and it was common to all ancient civilizations. It used to be played exclusively by women, as witnessed by many paintings such as Giotto’s mediaeval masterpieces. It is in fact thought that the circular shape with cymbals all around was chosen for its similarity to the Sun, symbol of Astarte, goddess of fertility.

Tarantolati di Tricarico