Pizzica pizzica, is a traditional rhythmic popular dance originated in Puglia. Played with guitars, violins and accompanied by tambourines, the dance spred out in all southern Italy at the time of the Regno delle due Sicilie, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
The original sound probably deriving from Greece, was played with vigorous uplifting loud accents and beats.The rythm of pizzica is quite similar to the more cheerful Neapolitan tarantella, a courtship dance performed by couples and deriving from the sound of the Spanish Fandango, influenced in origin by the tambor beats of north Africa.
Pizzica and taranta played both at a beat of approximately 100bpm (beats per minute) matched perfectly to be played in sequence: pizzica being marked by a wilder tempo underlined by medium size tambourines with a double row of jingles, while tarantella, played with a more prominent mandolin, is more melodic and less frenetic.
Both dances were associated to the concept that music was a therapy to cure the mythical consequences of the bite of the tarantula. A healing trance-dance for women most probably originated by the Greek rites of the Baccantes, the female followers of Dionysus who were inspired by Dionysus into a state of ecstasy and mad dancing.
Tarantate, were the victims of the bite of the spider tarantula, also called the bite of love, that supposedly drove them to dance in a wild delirium to free themselves from the poison of the spider evoking their repressed sexual desires. Dancers symbolically expel the poison of the tarantula by spinning and stomping their feet on the floor.
photo credits Le Radici del Sud