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Everything is related to NaplesLo Guarracino
Number 160 in this series. Link to all items here.
—A Tale of Musicological Ichthyomachy
Relax. It' just a fish story, but I had to spice up the title in order to keep up with the many people with alphabets after their names. They have used terms such as demopsychological, halieutic and bromatological (look them up—I did!) to describe what is essentially a piece of folk music. The fisherfolk who wrote this thing in the early 1700s must have had a lot of fun and no doubt would have been delighted to know that their masterful tarantella, Lo Guarracino, would bust scholarly chops for the next 300 years. If it was just a single, simple fisherman with a guitar who wrote it, he was a genius.
Lo Guarracino is the Neapolitan dialect name for the fish known in Italian as the coracino. (In scholarese, it is called chromis chromis.) They say it is an ugly fish; you be the judge (photo, above). This tarantella is still well-known and widely sung and danced today. The story told by the text is straightforward—for a fish story: the hero, lo Guarracino, decides to end his bachelor life and sets out to seek a mate. He puts on his best duds, ventures out and promptly falls in love with Sardella, a female sardine. She, however, is already betrothed to Alleterato, a tuna. After that set-up, the next umpteen verses are essentially a list of all the creatures of the local waters as they get involved on one side or the other of the love rivalry. The whole thing escalates and degenerates until there is a universal fish war going on.
-De Simone, Roberto. La tarantella napoletana nelle due anime del Guarracino. Edition: Gabriela and Maria Teresa Benincasa. Rome, 1992.
-Doria, Gino. La canzone del Guarracino. Alfredo Guida. Naples. 1933, reprint 1957.
-Gambi, Maria Cristina. Lo Guarracino che jeva pe mare. Gaetano Macchiaroli ed. Naples, 1992
-Paliotti, Vittorio. "Una guerra di pesci nel mare di Napoli" in L'Isola. On-line here.
-Scialò, Pasquale. Storie di Musiche. Guida. Naples, 2010.
-Sconamiglio, Gioacchino. La Canzone del Guarracino. Ed. Colombo. Rome. 1963.
(This item inspired an interesting comment from contributor, Larry Ray—The Young Man & the Sea.