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Laments, work & love songs

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In the rural agricultural communities that define the southern regions, work was the rule and free times the exception. Under the scorching sun, from dawn till dusk, the people would work the land. In those times, usually of solitude, they would sing to entertain themselves. During those songs, they would touch upon all the great issues, making a mental recapitulation of the day or their lives.



Mothers were often forced to carry their children in the field with them or keep them peaceful while they were busy with housekeeping. Lullabies (ninna nanne), therefore, were a staple of their daily cycle and they would be also a way to take pride in the little ones or wish for their future: a good marriage, an easy life.

 

 
Lullabies (ninna nanne), therefore, were a staple of their daily cycle and they would be also a way to take pride in the little ones or wish for their future: a good marriage, an easy life.









 
In a life full of hardships, laments for the dead were
heard quite often. Performed by professional women singers who acquired a quasi-spiritual role, they would include kind words and reflections about an elder's life or an almost self-inflicting sense of pain for the younger ones. 

 
The moroloja are powerful expressions of the ancient soul of those people.
 

 
Songs about immigration also cover a large part of the repertoire. Living in a land were harsh times were the rule, immigration soon became a viable solution, with people leaving for the industrialized North or abroad, in most cases leaving their loved ones behind. Immigration, which always carries with it the nostalgia for the motherland, is probably what connects southerners most potently.

Love songs also possess an irresistible beauty and attraction. The combination of intricate rhythms and melodic background and a vernacular lyrical tradition capable of expressing a wide range of emotions, from the energetic punches of fiery tarantella, to tender songs of love and longing, with the exuberance of celebration and an ironic glance towards modernity, here a few  examples.



 
 





 

In a life full of hardships, laments for the dead were heard quite often. Performed by professional women singers who acquired a quasi-spiritual role, they would include kind words and reflections about an elder's life or an almost self-inflicting sense of pain for the younger ones. The moroloja are powerful expressions of the ancient soul of those people.


In the rural agricultural communities that define the southern regions, work was the rule and free times the exception. Under the scorching sun, from dawn till dusk, the people would work the land. In those times, usually of solitude, they would sing to entertain themselves. During those songs, they would touch upon all the great issues, making a mental recapitulation of the day or their lives.
Mothers were often forced to carry their children in the field with them or keep them peaceful while they were busy with housekeeping. Lullabies (ninna nanne), therefore, were a staple of their daily cycle and they would be also a way to take pride in the little ones or wish for their future: a good marriage, an easy life.


Songs about immigration also cover a large part of the repertoire. Living in a land were harsh times were the rule, immigration soon became a viable solution, with people leaving for the industrialized North or abroad, in most cases leaving their loved ones behind. Immigration, which always carries with it the nostalgia for the motherland, is probably what connects southerners most potently.

Love songs also possess an irresistible beauty and attraction. The combination of intricate rhythms and melodic background and a vernacular lyrical tradition capable of expressing a wide range of emotions, from the energetic punches of fiery tarantella, to tender songs of love and longing, with the exuberance of celebration and an ironic glance towards modernity, here a few  examples.

Neapolitan:When you mother made you - Quando mammate t'ha fattu

Quanno mammeta t'ha fatta
quanno mammeta t'ha fatta
vuo' sape' comme facette
vuo' sape' comme facette

pe' mpasta' sti carne belle
pe' mpasta' sti carne belle
tutto chello che mettette
tutto chello che mettette

ciento rose n'cappucciate
dint'a martula mmiscate
latte e rose, rose e latte
te facette 'ncoppa 'o fatto

nun c'e' bisogno 'a zingara
p'addivina' Cunce'
comme tha fatto mammeta
'o saccio meglio e te

E pe' fá 'sta vocca bella,
e pe' fá 'sta vocca bella.
Nun servette 'a stessa dose,
nun servette 'a stessa dose. 

Vuó' sapé che nce mettette?
Vuó' sapé che nce mettette?
Mo te dico tuttecosa,
mo te dico tuttecosa. 

Nu panaro chino, chino,
tutt' 'e fravule 'e ciardino.
Mèle, zuccaro e cannella,
te 'mpastaje 'sta vocca bella.

E pe' fá sti ttrezze d'oro,
e pe' fá sti ttrezze d'oro.
Mamma toja s'appezzentette,
mamma toja s'appezzentette.

Bella mia, tu qua' muneta?
Bella mia, tu qua' muneta?
Vuó' sapé che nce servette?
Vuó' sapé che nce servette?

Na miniera sana sana,
tutta fatta a filagrana,
nce vulette pe' sti ttrezze,
che, a vasá, nun ce sta prezzo.

Nun c'e' bisogno 'a zingara
p'addivina' Cunce'
comme tha fatto mammeta
'o saccio meglio e te.

When your mother bore you,
when your mother bore you.
Want to know how she did it?
Want to know how she did it?

To cook up this nice dish
To cook up this nice dish
What did she put in it?
What did she put in it?

A hundred rosebuds
She mixed with a mortar
Milk and roses, roses and milk
She whisked you up in the blink of an eye

It doesn't take a gypsy
To figure it out, Cunce'(short for Concetta-Connie)
Just how your mother made you
I know it better than you.

And to make that lovely mouth
And to make that lovely mouth
There were other things she added
There were other things she added 

Want to know what she put in?
Want to know what she put in?
Now I'll tell you all
Now I'll tell you all

A basket filled to the brim
With all the strawberries in
the garden, apple sugar and cinnamon
to make that lovely mouth.

And to make these braids of gold,
And to make these braids of gold.
Your mother spent a lot
Your mother spent a lot.

Bella mia, how much she spent?
Bella mia, how much she spent?
Want to know what she needed?
Want to know what she needed?

A whole gold mine 
and a lot of gold filigree
it took for these braids
that, to kiss there is no price.

It doesn't take a gypsy
To figure it out, Cunce'
Just how your mother made you
I know it better than you!

 

 

Sicilian - Mi votu e mi rivotu - I turn and turn

Mi votu e mi rivotu suspirannu
passu li notti 'nteri senza sonnu
e li biddizzi tò jù cuntimplannu
li passu di la notti finu a jornu

Pi tia nun pozzu ora cchiù durmìri
paci nun t'havi chiù st'afflittu cori
lu sai quannu ca jù t'ajo a lassari,
quannu la vita mia finisci e mori
lu sai quannu ca iu t'haiu a lassari,
quannu la vita mia finisci e mori

Palumma ca camini maru maru
ferma quannu ti dicu du paroli
quannu ti tiru 'na pinna di st'ali
quannu fazzu na littra a lu miu amuri

Li littri ti ni mannu a tri a dui
sposta ca di tia nun haiu mai
o chi si persi la carta ppi vui
oppuramenti scriviri nun sai
mi votu e mi rivotu sospirannu
passu li notti 'nteri senza sonnu

 

I turn and turn again sighing
I spend whole nights without
sleeping
I admire your beauty
and see the whole night pass by
for you now I cannot sleep any more
peace my aching heart has no more

Do you know when I'll leave you?
When my life ends and I'll die.

Dove walking along the seashore,
stop that I must tell you a
couple words,
stop so I can steal a plume
from your wings
to write letters to my love.

I write you letters, three, two,
but never from you I have a reply
or you lost the paper to write
or you cannot write
I turn and turn again sighing
I spend whole nights without sleeping

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