Tarantism: from music to medicine antidotum tarantulae by athanasius kircher
For centuries tarantism was popularly considered to be an affliction caused by a spider bite. The antidote to this ‘poison’ was a music ceremony or cultural syndrome during which the victim of the bite let him or herself go in an uncontrolled dance which, via convulsive movements, led to healing. This belief led to a music tradition typical of the Salento which, in recent times, has been configured into a full blown custom in which marketing and culture coexist: the ‘pizzica’ renaissance.
A journey through the origins of this tradition, its rethinking and local bonds cuts through the historic stages in which one of the principal ethnomusicology forms was created and took shape.