In an article published on Immersive, a new website that enables easily produced and elegant storytelling, Paris-based writer and musician Ilan Moss delivers a fascinating account of Italy’s “Trallaleri” singers. This ancient form of European polyphonic singing can still be found in the quiet streets of the port city of Genoa.
Trallalero is usually performed by men, but modern groups can include women. The name comes from the different syllables, such as tra-la-la, sung by the performers. A group can include 9 to 20 singers who each play a different role: tenor, baritone, bass, alto, contralto or even a voice that sounds like a guitar.
This polyphonic music was studied and recorded in the 1950s by the American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, who said he was blown away by the unique sound he encountered in Genoa.