The Italian Tarantella or Saltarello may be a 6/8 time signature, it does not go "humpty, dumpty" but rather "twinka, twinka". Just a barely perceptible elaboration with the chord key, right before you hit the bass key. That's what Claudio di Mutio managed to get across without words at the offset of the workshop at Groesbeek,
Without words, for from that moment onwards difficulties arose: the instruments Claudio and his musical mate Bruno Duranti brought were tuned in G, and turned out to be one-and-a-half-rowers, a rare phenomenon in Holland. On top of this, these musicians spoke no language but their own and no-one in our group understood
Solving the first problem was easy: we simply swapped the 1 1/2-rowers for two-rowers in C, which were plentiful. It turned out the two Italians could handle these just as well.
For interpreter they'd brought a companion who spoke English fairly well, a mr. Bompezzo, manager with a well-known accordion builder in Italy. On this thursday afternoon we leaned on him to explain that we found ourselves in a deadlock: our young teachers were unable to indicate what it was they wanted, and the group were divided as to how to proceed.
We were quick to decide that dividing our group into two would bring the solution: one fast group, one group less so. That's how I found myself in the company of Claudio, a 19-year-old youth with long black hair in the back of his neck. An appearance which we in Holland don't usually associate with folk music. He turned out to play virtuoso and with lightning speed.
Thus we were introduced to the Italian playing style, which seemed to specialize in twin tone combinations and rapid licks on the descant side.
Eventually we made good show at the groups presentation: one group had mastered the Italian equivalent of ‘Drink, Drink To Lily The Pink’ and we hurled a fast ‘Passeggliata Allegra Polka’ into the public. In short: highly instructive days, during which we discovered that teaching music can cut right through language barriers. However, whether the Italian duo will return next year is still uncertain. The two lacked the 'joie de vivre' that was so apparant in the others at 'Groesbeek' and it is not clear if they've felt at home, outsiders, unable to communicate with anyone.
This cannot be blamed on the female offspring of the Groesbeek gang. For Bruno and Claudio were constantly followed by a herd of enthousiastic young girls that had barely outgrown their dolls. Never before have I encountered accordion players that could boast of having a keen crowd of such young, female fans.