Bagherese Cart Drivers’ Songs

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The singer on this cart is performing a traditional cart driver’s song (for a contemporary celebration). This photo was taken in Santa Flavia, near Bagheria. Bagheria is not only renowned for its tradition of building intricately decorated carts, but also for the tradition of virtuosic singing employed by the cart drivers. The drivers’ songs are monophonic chants punctuated with chromatic melismas. The topics of the songs could be anything from an advertisement featuring the goods the driver is transporting to religious devotion or unrequited love. Although these songs are free-solos, in the past cart drivers often gathered together to sing competitively with each other.

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