The Instruments

Some Traditional Instruments of Southern Italy

Baroque guitar: The guitar as it existed in the 17th and 18th centuries. Though it developed much of its repertory in Italy, the instrument was nonetheless called the chitarra spagnola. In Italy the back of the guitar could be either flat or round, like a lute. Using 5 double courses of strings, the guitar was used to accompany strophic songs but also developed a sophisticated solo literature and was used extensively to realize basso continuo accompaniments.

Chitarra battente: An adaptation of the Baroque guitar in the 18th century. Rather than gut strings and frets, the chitarra battente is strung with metal strings and fitted with fixed metal frets. The strings pass over a movable bridge and are fixed at the bottom of the body. The soundboard is slanted downwards from the bridge, similar to a Neapolitan mandolin. Used for popular music, it was probably played with a plectrum.

Chitarrone:: also called tiorba ('theorbo' in English), a large bass lute with a long neck extension developed just before 1600 for the realization of the new basso continuo style of accompaniment, though it also developed a substantial solo repertory. Usually having 14 courses it was usually strung with gut strings, though also sometimes with metal. It was used in all types of music (chamber, church, opera) throughout the Baroque period, and was incorporated into most European national styles.

Ciaramella: a type of traditional Italian shawm (early oboe), related to the bagpipe.

Colascione: a long-necked lute derived from the Turkish saz having 2 or 3 courses of gut strings and played with a plectrum. It was used as a folk instrument in Southern Italy and Sicily, and is commonly pictured with commedia dell'arte characters such as Pulcinella.

Tammorra: a very large frame drum with bells attached to the sides.