L’Arpeggiata plays Athanasius Kircher’s Tarantella Napoletana, Tono Hypodorico

Conducted by Christina Pluhar, the early music ensemble L’Arpeggiata plays Athanasius Kircher’s Tarantella Napoletana, Tono Hypodorico. A really good rendition of the historic piece, enjoy.

L’Arpeggiata is a European early music group led by Christina Pluhar, and founded by her in 2000. The group has presented both traditional early music and also several collaged and themed performances and recordings. Ensemble website: arpeggiata.com

Athanasius Kircher
Photo: “Athanasius Kircher”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – wikimedia

Athanasius Kircher, S.J. (sometimes erroneously spelled Kirchner; 1602–1680) was a 17th-century German Jesuit scholar and polymath who published around 40 major works, most notably in the fields of Oriental studies, geology, and medicine. Kircher has been compared to fellow Jesuit Roger Boscovich and to Leonardo da Vinci for his enormous range of interests, and has been honored with the title “Master of a Hundred Arts”. A resurgence of interest in Kircher has occurred within the scholarly community in recent decades.

He published a large number of substantial books on a very wide variety of subjects, such as Egyptology, geology, and music theory.

The Musurgia Universalis (1650) sets out Kircher’s views on music: he believed that the harmony of music reflected the proportions of the universe. The book includes plans for constructing water-powered automatic organs, notations of birdsong and diagrams of musical instruments. One illustration shows the differences between the ears of humans and other animals. In Phonurgia Nova (1673) Kircher considered the possibilities of transmitting music to remote places. Kircher also employed combinatorics in his Arca Musarithmica, an aleatoric music composition device capable of producing millions of church hymns by combining randomly selected musical phrases.

Tarantella is a group of various folk dances characterized by a fast upbeat tempo, usually in 6/8 time (sometimes 18/8 or 4/4), accompanied by tambourines. It is among the most recognized forms of traditional southern Italian music. The specific dance-name varies with every region, for instance tammuriata in Campania, pizzica in the Salento region, Sonu a ballu in Calabria. Tarantella is popular in Southern Italy and Argentina.

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