Lesson 2: Learning “Cu Ti Lu Dissi”
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Aim: How are meter and rhythm used to support dancing?
Summary: Students will learn to sing “Cu Ti Lu Dissi,” explore 3/4 meter by learning the tamburello rhythm and dancing the waltz, and discover Sicilian folk instruments.
Materials: Musical Explorers digital resources, Musical Explorers Student Guide
Standards: National 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11
Vocabulary: improvisation, meter, tamburello, waltz
“Cu Ti Lu Dissi”
Cu ti lu dissi ca t’haju a lassari?
Megliu la morti e no chistu duluri
Ay ay ay ay, amor’ amor’ amor’ amore
Ciatu di lu me cori, l’amuri miu si tu
Le lo le lo le lo lai ...
Cu ti lu dissi a tia nicuzza
lu cori mi scricchia a picca a picca a picca a picca
Who told you I have to leave you?
I’d rather die than suffer such pain.
Ay ay ay ay love, love, love
Breath of my heart, you are my love
Le lo le lo le lo lai ...
Who told you little one?
My heart burns, burns, burns, burns
- Read the lyrics aloud to your students and discuss.
- Julia says that there are no Sicilian love songs without heartbreak; this song, she says, is about choosing love over pain.
- Using Basic tamburello rhythm, Track 51, as a guide, play the tamburello rhythm, starting out slow and speeding up. Once your students have practiced the basic rhythm, they can experiment with improvising as the tamburello traditionally does.
- Use the quarter notes and triplets as the two building blocks, varying the number of quarter notes and the number of triplet sets. Tamburello rhythm with variations, Track 52, demonstrates this activity.
- Improvised tamburello rhythms, Track 53, demonstrates a more elaborate improvisation.
Waltz to “Cu Ti Lu Dissi”
- Sicilian folk music is often accompanied by dancing. “Cu Ti Lu Dissi” is a waltz, which is a dance form found in many cultures.
- A waltz is a dance in 3/4. Beat 1 is strong and beats 2 and 3 are weak.
- Learn a basic waltz step. Students will step down on the strong beat and up on the weak beats (DOWN-up-up): Ask students to form a circle.
- Beat 1 (DOWN): Step forward on your right foot and bend your knee as you plant your foot down.
- Beat 2 (up): Bring your left foot to meet your right, stepping on your tiptoes.
- Beat 3 (up): Step on tiptoes in place on your right foot.
- Repeat the three steps beginning with your left foot.
- Once students are comfortable with the movement and can do it up to speed, play “Cu Ti Lu Dissi,” Track 47, and have them waltz in a circle to the music.
- If they master the waltz moving in a circle, try it paired up.
Discover Sicilian Folk Instruments
Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola tells the story of a grandmother witch with an enchanted pasta pot. When her helper, Big Anthony, decides to use the pasta pot against her wishes, things get out of hand!
Musical Word Wall
Add the words improvisation, meter, tamburello, and waltz to the Musical Word Wall.
Santa Rosalia photo by Ed Wilkinson.