Tune of the Day: Tarantella napoletana
The “Tarantella” dance music is probably the most recognized tune of all Italian folk music. You can see this dance at authentic southern Italian weddings, and obviously it appears in the famous 1972 film The Godfather. In The Godfather Part II, Frankie Pentangeli tries to get the wedding band (who is not Italian) to play a tarantella; they end up playing “Pop Goes the Weasel” instead!
The Tarantella has a very interesting history. During ancient times in the area around the city of Taranto in southern Italy, a type of poisonous spider was so prevalent that it took the name tarantula. Its venom caused a hysterical condition, the symptoms of which were an irresistible need for a wild and rapid whirling motion bringing the victim to the point of exhaustion. For long time, the local population believed that the only way to suppress the symptoms and to cure the bite was by using a very rhythmic and fast music. The music played for the cure became known as Tarantella.