Music of Sicily
The Music of Sicily refers to music created by peoples from the isle of Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

. It was shaped by the island's history, from the island's great presence as part of Magna Grecia 2,500 years ago through various historical incarnations as past of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, then an integral part of the Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

, and, finally, as region of the modern nation state of Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...


General comments

Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 is home to a great variety of Christian music
Christian music
Christian music is music that has been written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life and faith. Common themes of Christian music include praise, worship, penitence, and lament, and its forms vary widely across the world....

, including a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

 devotional songs from Montedoro
Montedoro is a comune in the Province of Caltanissetta in the Italian region Sicily, located about 80 km southeast of Palermo and about 20 km west of Caltanissetta...

 and many brass band
Brass band
A brass band is a musical ensemble generally consisting entirely of brass instruments, most often with a percussion section. Ensembles that include brass and woodwind instruments can in certain traditions also be termed brass bands , but are usually more correctly termed military bands, concert...

s like Banda Ionica
Banda Ionica
Banda Ionica is an Italian folk group focused on the brass band traditions of Sicily. The roots of the music played by the band can be traced to Holy Week and funeral marches...

, who play songs from a diverse repertoire. Harvest songs and work song
Work song
A work song is a piece of music closely connected to a specific form of work, either sung while conducting a task or a song linked to a task or trade which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song....

s are also indigenous to the agricultural island, known as "Italy's granary". Sicilian flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

 music, called friscaletto, is also popular among traditionalist Sicilians, as are Messina's male choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...


Franco Battiato
Franco Battiato
Francesco Battiato is an Italian singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker and, under the pseudonym Süphan Barzani, also a painter. Battiato's songs contain esoteric, philosophical and religious themes...

, Fratelli Mancuso
Fratelli Mancuso
The Fratelli Mancuso, the brothers Enzo and Lorenzo Mancuso, are musicians who were born in Sutera in the province of Caltanissetta, Sicily. They moved to London in the 1970s and have been based in Città della Pieve, Umbria since 1981....

 and Ciccio Busacca
Ciccio Busacca
Ciccio Busacca , born in Paternò, Province of Catania,was one of the best known Sicilian ballad singers.Playwright and composer Dario Fo wrote "Ci ragiono e canto N.3" for him.- References :* at* at

 are among the most popular musicians from Sicily. Busacca has worked with Dario Fo
Dario Fo
Dario Fo is an Italian satirist, playwright, theater director, actor and composer. His dramatic work employs comedic methods of the ancient Italian commedia dell'arte, a theatrical style popular with the working classes. He currently owns and operates a theatre company with his wife, actress...

, like many Italian musicians, but is perhaps best-known for his setting the poems of Ignazio Buttitta
Ignazio Buttitta
Ignazio Buttitta was a Sicilian dialectal poet.-Biography:Born at Bagheria into a poor family, after having taken part in World War I Buttitta joined the Italian Socialist Party and around this time started to write poetry in Sicilian. His first volume of poetry published was Sintimintali ,...

, a poet who wrote in Sicilian
Sicilian language
Sicilian is a Romance language. Its dialects make up the Extreme-Southern Italian language group, which are spoken on the island of Sicily and its satellite islands; in southern and central Calabria ; in the southern parts of Apulia, the Salento ; and Campania, on the Italian mainland, where it is...

. Fratelli Mancuso (with brothers Enzo and Lorenzo Mancuso) have fused traditional Sicilian peasant songs (lamentazioni), monodic chants (alla carrettiera) and other indigenous forms to create a uniquely Sicilian modern song style.

Sicily has the most vibrant jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 scene in Italy, based in Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

 and including Enzo Rao
Enzo Rao
Enzo Rao is an Italian musician who plays a number of instruments, including bass guitar, oud, saz, jaw harp and violin, in a variety of folk and popular styles. He has performed with artists like Rakali, Glen Velez and Claudio Lo Cascio. In 1988 he founded the project SHAMAL which combines...

 and his group Shamal, who have added native Sicilian and Arab influences to American jazz. Sicily is also home to Franco Battiato
Franco Battiato
Francesco Battiato is an Italian singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker and, under the pseudonym Süphan Barzani, also a painter. Battiato's songs contain esoteric, philosophical and religious themes...

, a popular musician and composer who fused rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

 with traditional and classical influences, beginning with 1979's L'era del cinghiale bianco, a popular landmark album.

Traditional music

Sicily's historical connections lie not just with mainland Italy, but also the ancient Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and more recent Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

, French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and the Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

) cultures and occupiers. The result has been a diverse and unique fusion of musical elements on the island. American musicologist
Musicology is the scholarly study of music. The word is used in narrow, broad and intermediate senses. In the narrow sense, musicology is confined to the music history of Western culture...

 Alan Lomax
Alan Lomax
Alan Lomax was an American folklorist and ethnomusicologist. He was one of the great field collectors of folk music of the 20th century, recording thousands of songs in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and Spain.In his later career, Lomax advanced his theories of...

 made some historic recordings of Sicilian traditional music in the 20th century, including lullabies
A lullaby is a soothing song, usually sung to young children before they go to sleep, with the intention of speeding that process. As a result they are often simple and repetitive. Lullabies can be found in every culture and since the ancient period....

, dance music
Dance music
Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement...

, festival music, epic storytelling and religious music.

Sicily is home to several different types of folk music instruments, many of which can also be found in other parts of Southern Italy. The Sicilian ciaramedda
The ciaramedda or ciaramèddha is a type of zampogna with equal length double chanters. Other terms for this instrument include "zampogna a paru" and "terzalora" or simply "cornamuse."...

 is a type of Italian Zampogna
Zampogna is a generic term for a number of Italian double chantered pipes that can be found as far north as the southern part of the Marche, throughout areas in Abruzzo, Latium, Molise, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria, and Sicily...

 (Bagpipe) that has two equal length chanters and from two to three drone. All the pipes use single cane reeds made from Arundo donax
Arundo donax
Arundo donax, Giant Cane, is a tall perennial cane growing in damp soils, either fresh or moderately saline. Other common names include Carrizo, Arundo, Spanish cane, Wild cane, and Giant reed....

. Also made out of Arundo donax is a small end blown flute called a friscaletto or friscalettu. The jaw harp, known in Sicilian as "marranzanu" is heavily associated with Sicilian folk music. Since its invention in the early 19th century the Organetto
Organetto refers to two distinct instruments. The medieval organetto was a portable pipe instrument, while the modern organetto is a popular Italian folk instrument allied to the accordion....

, a diatonic folk accordion
The accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone family, sometimes referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist....

 is also prevalent in traditional Sicilian music. Percussion instruments include tambourines and other frame drums as well as the cupa cupa, a unique sounding friction drum.

In 1975 Luciano Maio founded the band Taberna Mylaensis
Taberna Mylaensis
-Biography:Discover the popular Sicilian music by the ensemble of Milazzo, the ancient town of Mylae.Luciano Maio has been a propagator of Sicilian culture all his life, as a poet, artist, painter, singer, fisherman, sculptor, lyricist, and as a composer.In the early 1970s he founded 'Taberna...

 and initiated the recovery of the great traditional music of Sicily.

Carmelo Salemi is the best-known performer of traditional Sicilian flute music, friscaletto.

Other traditionalist Sicilian musicians include Giancarlo Parisi.

Musical and theatrical venues

The region of Sicily has 9 provinces. They are Palermo, Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Ragusa, Siracusa, and Trapani, (each named for the largest city and capital of the province). By province they offer these venues and activities:

  • Palermo
    Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

    : the theatrical tradition in Palermo goes back the 16th century and the visit of Charles V
    Holy Roman Empire
    The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

    . Currently, there are about a dozen theaters in the city of Palermo that feature live music. Among these are the Teatro Massimo
    Teatro Massimo
    The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele is an opera house and opera company located on the Piazza Verdi in Palermo, Sicily. It was dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II....

    , the Teatro di Verdura a Villa Castelnuovo (an ex-Bourbon hunting lodge for the royal family of Naples on the frequent trips to Sicily), the Teatro Politeama Garibaldi, the Teatro Biondo (specializing in modern and contemporary music), the Teatro Santa Cecilia, the auditorium of the Vincenzo Bellini
    Vincenzo Bellini
    Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini was an Italian opera composer. His greatest works are I Capuleti ed i Montecchi , La sonnambula , Norma , Beatrice di Tenda , and I puritani...

     music conservatory, and the Salone dello Steri (seat of the Inquisition
    The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

     in the 17th and 18th centuries and currently home to the Antonio Il Verso Association for Ancient Music). The town of Monreal in the province hosts a Sacred Music Week on the premises of the cathedral;

  • Agrigento
    Agrigento , is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas , one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden...

    : the site of an important folk festival, the Sagro del Mandorlo in Fiore. The city also has the Teatro Luigi Pirandello
    Luigi Pirandello
    Luigi Pirandello was an Italian dramatist, novelist, and short story writer awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1934, for his "bold and brilliant renovation of the drama and the stage." Pirandello's works include novels, hundreds of short stories, and about 40 plays, some of which are written...

     and an archaeological museum that hosts concerts amidst ancient ruins.

  • Caltanissetta
    Caltanissetta is a city and comune located on the western interior of Sicily, capital of the province of Caltanissetta...

    : the recently reopened Teatro Regina Margherita sponsors the concerts of the Friends of Music Association as well as the "finals" of the Vincenzo Bellini music competition.

  • Catania
    Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

    : the city is the site of the splendid Teatro Massimo Bellini, built in 1890 and still decorated with the original architectural allegories to the works of this "favorite son" composer.

  • Enna
    Enna is a city and comune located roughly at the center of Sicily, southern Italy, in the province of Enna, towering above the surrounding countryside...

    : the cathedral of Enna (from the early 14th century) is the occasional site of music performances; so it is the medieval castle (13th century), one of the biggest fortresses in Sicily, which has hosted for decades the so called "Closest theater to stars", name due to the altitude of the castle and town of Enna (more than 950 m on the sea level).

  • Messina: the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele in Messina hosts concerts sponsored by the Laudamo Philharmonic Association. The Cathedral of Messina was heavily damaged both in the great earthquake of 1908 and by the bombings of WW2; it has been restored to its original Norman style and is the frequent site of classical music concerts. Messina is the site of the Arcangelo Corelli music conservatory.

Moreover, in Taormina
Taormina is a comune and small town on the east coast of the island of Sicily, Italy, in the Province of Messina, about midway between Messina and Catania. Taormina has been a very popular tourist destination since the 19th century...

 there is one of the most charming music venues of Italy, the well-preserved Greek theatre which regularly hosts a season of concerts every summer.
  • Ragusa
    Ragusa, Italy
    Ragusa is a city and comune in southern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Ragusa, on the island of Sicily, with around 75,000 inhabitants. It is built on a wide limestone hill between two deep valleys, Cava San Leonardo and Cava Santa Domenica...

    : the cathedral of San Giovanni Battista hosts classical music concerts; in the town of Modica, there is a library and center for popular arts and traditions, including music.

  • Siracusa: the greatest of all sites of ancient Magna Grecia. The city of Siracusa has the San Pietro al Carmine auditorium as well as a large ancient Roman amphitheater (within an even earlier Greek setting) that hosts concerts.

  • Trapani
    Trapani is a city and comune on the west coast of Sicily in Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Trapani. Founded by Elymians, the city is still an important fishing port and the main gateway to the nearby Egadi Islands.-History:...

    : spread around various sites in the region are the July Music Festival and the International Opera and Youth Festival (both in the city of Trapani), the International Week of Medieval and Renaissance Music (in Erice), the International Opera Festival (in Alcamo), and the International Piano Competition and the Mario del Monaco Opera Competition (in Marsala). The Friends of Music in Trapani sponsors a very active concert season (see "external link," below).

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.