Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/601

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SONG.

were called) were popular in Italy early in tlie 1 6th century. Of the popular hymns of Italy during the Middle Ages mention has been made innU-r LAUDI SPIRITUALI.

Materials for a satisfactory treatment of the Canti popolari of Italy do not exist. Though much has been written about their words, no treatise exists on their tunes. Neither does there appear to be any collection which can safely be trusted to give us veritable old songs. Of late years large collections of modern Canti popolari have been published, such as the Canzonette Veneziane, Stornelli Toscani, Canti Lombard*, Napoletani, Siciliani, etc. ; and as their titles indicate, these publications purport to be collections of local songs in the several provinces of Italy. But whether they can be accepted as the genuine productions which they profess to be, is questionable. They would rather seem to be new compositions or new arrangements and developments of old popular tunes. Moreover it is very doubtful whether any of them are really sung by the peasants of the districts to which they are attributed, except the Canti Lombardi. The melodies at least of these are for the most part genuine.

A far stronger claim than any which the songs of these collections can put forward to the title of Canti popolari, may be advanced in favour of countless popular melodies taken from favourite Operas. The immense popularity of operatic tunes in Italy cannot surprise us when we re- member that the theatre is there an ubiquitous institution, and that the quick ear of the Italian instantly catches melodies with a distinct rhythm and an easy progression of intervals. Again, the chorus-singers of the Opera are often chosen from among the workmen and labourers of the place ; and thus even difficult choruses may be heard in the streets and suburbs of towns which possess a theatre. Having regard, therefore, to the wide diffusion of the Opera in Italy, and its influence on all classes during two centuries and a half, it is reasonable to conclude that it must have checked the normal development of popular songs, and also, perhaps, obliterated the traces of old tunes. A good instance of the conversion of a theatrical melody not only into a popular, but even into a national song, is afforded by Monti's verses 'Bella Italia, amate sponde.' These were adapted in 1859 to the Cdbaletta of the basso, in the first act of Bellini's ' Sonnam- bula,' 'Tu no' 1 sai, con quei begli occhi,' and were to be heard in every place of public resort in Northern Italy.

The so-called Canti nazionali belong to a period commencing about the year 1821. They have all been inspired by the political move- ments of this century for the regeneration of Italy, and their tone is naturally warlike. The most celebrated of them are ' Addio, mia bella, addio,' which is an adaptation of Italian words to ' Partant pour la ' Syrie ' ; ' Daghela avanti un

i This adaptation was probably made during the war of 1859. In which France assisted Italy to liberate herself from the yoke of Austria.

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��2 passo,' a ballet song written by Paolo Giorza in 1858; 'Oh, dolce piacer, goder liberta 1 ; 'Inno di Mameli '; ' Fratelli d' Italia ' ; 'La bandiera tricolore ' ; ' All' armi, All' armi,' by Pieri ; and the 'Inno di Garibaldi.' The years in which Italy was most deeply stirred by struggles for independence were 1821, 1848, and 1859, and all the songs just cited can be traced to one or other of those revolutionary periods.

The harmonic and formal structure of the Canti popolari is usually very simple. They are very rarely sung in parts, though sometimes an under part is added in thirds. Their accom- paniments are also extremely simple. A weak and very modern colouring is imparted to the harmony by an excessive use of the chord of the dominant seventh ; but otherwise the harmony adheres to the tonic chords, and very seldom modulates into anything except the nearest re- lated keys. No Canti popolari written in the old scales are extant ; indeed, since the time of Caccini their emancipation from the ecclesias- tical modes has been complete. The form and rhythm of the songs are equally simple, con- sisting of four-bar phrases ; the time is more fre- quently 3-8 or 6-8 than common time. The poetry is in stanzas of four lines, the accents occurring regularly, even in provincial dialects ; and the songs are generally strophical that is, the melody is repeated for each stanza. It should be added, to avert misconception, that the terms Canti, Can- zonetti, and Stornelli have been very loosely and indiscriminately employed. But, speaking

2 This most popular air Is a striking Illustration of the fortuitous manner In which songs sometimes acquire a national renown. The circumstances which made ' Daghela avanti un passo ' famous were as follows. In 1S58, when Milan was a hot-bed ot Italian conspiracy and Intrigue against the Austrian rule In Lombardy, the perform- ance of a ballet-dancer at the Teatro della Cannoblana was received by the spectators with mingled expressions of approval and dis- approval, which gave rUe to disorder In the theatre. The police interfered, and took the part of the majority, whose opinion was ad- Terse to the danseuse. This at once enlisted the popular sympathies on her side, and her cause was thenceforth identified with patriotic aspirations. Further disturbances followed, and the police stopped' the run of the ballet. Thereupon the tune to which the ballet-girl danced her pauo a tola passed Into the streets of Milan and was heard everywhere, sung by the populace with words partly Italian and partly Milanese. It was a hybrid song of love and war. with the refrain * daghela avanti un passo ' (meaning ' move a step forward '). and It was received by the public as an exhortation to patriotic action. To Austrian ears the tune and the words were an insolent challenge, and they were not forgotten when war was declared a. few months later between Austria and the kingdom of Piedmont. Daghela avanti un passo' was then played In derision by the military bands of Austria, while her troops were advancing from Lombardy Into Piedmont. But Austria was soon compelled t evacuate Piedmont, and her retreating armies ever heard the same song sung by the advancing soldiers of Italy. Province after province was subsequently annexed to Piedmont and with each successive annexation the area of the popularity of Daghela avanti un passo ' was extended, until it was heard all over the Italian kingdom. This is its melody:

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