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03 December 2013

Sounds Of Italy Part 1

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Italians are immensely proud of their musical heritage.

Quite rightly so too. Almost every piece of popular music that pops on the radio nowadays has been influenced, at least in part, by the Italian musicians of the 16th Century. Now, I am not saying that there is a direct influence.

I am sure bands such as Green Day do not spend hours upon hours poring over the work of musicians such as Neapolitan musical genius Domenico Cimarosa. In fact, I seriously doubt they know who he is. However, I am sure that they will be utilizing many of the concepts that the Italians introduced to the world of music in the 16th Century.

Musical concepts that we learn at school nowadays were innovated in Italy. This means concepts such as musical scales, harmony, musical notation, and a whole lot more. It is pretty much safe to say that without Italian music the world would be quite a different place right now. This is what lead me to write this page. As some of you may know, I have a new album Via Italia.

As you can probably guess from the name, this album is all about a journey into the music of Italy and back to my Italian roots. I therefore figured there is no better time than now to start to discuss a little bit about the evolution of music throughout Italy. On this page we are going to be placing a distinct focus on the development of Neapolitan music, one of the musical styles that many people outside of Italy most often associate with the country.

You will see exactly why that is the case later. For now though, I do want you to realize that there is so much more to Italian music than what you know. In fact, as you are about to discover, the Italian style has managed to creep its way into some of the most popular English songs of all time. Here is a sample of a Neapolitan track from the album:-Dicitinecello Vue – Via Italia Or the whole album here:- Via Italia – Robert Michaels

Italian music is unique!

If you take a little look at the musical histories of most countries you will see that most of the time the country has become associated with an incredibly distinct style of music. A style of music which transcends everything. That style of music is their own national identity. That is not the case with Italy.

Nobody has ever stated that a specific sound is the true sound of Italy. It is impossible to do so. The music culture is far too diverse. In the early stages of Italian musical history there was never really a style which swept across the peninsula (before Italy became a unified state). Instead small pockets of musical styles popped up all over the country. Each sounding distinctly different from one another. The way in which an artist composed a song on his guitar on one side of the country would be completely different to the way in which an artist writes their music on the other side of the country.

This of course makes the discussion of the sound of Italy difficult. This is because there is no ‘one’ style (although we will be discussing this more in a second) Italy has never been one of those countries which has fiercely fought off the influence of other cultures when it comes to their music.

In fact, in the past, other cultures were able to meld into their music. As a result you will find that most of the Italian sound nowadays has influences from the French, the Germans, and of course, the Spanish (if you listen to the style of Italian music, particularly that which is played on the Mandolin, you will notice that it is stark similarities to Spanish music) I think it is pretty much a given that Opera music is the main style of music which is associated with Italy.

It has been this way since the 18th Century. Although this style of performance music spread like wildfire across Italy during the 16th Century. To the Italians, there was just something about seeing a powerful vocalist perform on that stage which was simply awe-inspiring. Opera was one of the first times in which music was played as a major performance piece like this, and people absolutely loved it.

We are not going to cover the history of Opera here. What I do want to cover is where Opera ended up heading in popular music. This is the Neapolitan style. Tune in next time when we will talk more about the Neapolitan style of music, the style on which my own album Via Italia has been based. Here is a track from the album:-Bianca Rosa – Via Italia

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