Journal of Musicology
Dancing the Righoletto


The righoletto was a type of round dance current in Florence and its surrounding countryside in the late 14th and 15th centuries. It was above all a dance accompanied by song, one in which all the dancers sang the refrain, and a soloist sang the stanzas. Twelve canzone a righoletto have been identified in literary sources, together with three closely related works also appropriate to accompany the dance. The lyrics occupy a medium or lower poetic register; they range from moralizing texts to ribald narratives. Despite its country origins, the righoletto and its canzone were shared across social classes, largely via oral transmission. One canzona a righoletto survives with its music, the lauda ““In su quell'alto monte.”” Another, the satiric ““Non ti fidare che oggi èè sìì pocha féé,”” has been reconstructed from its model in the Squarcialupi Codex. The righoletto thus offers valuable glimpses of a vanished form of vernacular culture in late medieval Italy.


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