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The Cantautori

Updated on October 2, 2011
Fabrizio de Andre
Fabrizio de Andre
Mia Martini
Mia Martini
Gianna Nannini
Gianna Nannini
Angelo Branduardi
Angelo Branduardi
Lucio Dalla
Lucio Dalla

A Brief History

Italian music celebrates the very culture and rich history that Italian people share. The music acts as an art form of expression and incorporates styles from all over the world to create unique and interesting rhythms and beats that entrance their spectators. One such group of musicians called the Cantautori is famous for this and their history has continued to influence new musicians to this day.

The Cantautori was first recognized as a musical phenomenon in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The name Cantautori literally translates into English as authors who sing, which is a very accurate translation for these musicians. This unique group was interesting for their styles and choices in music. Most of the Cantautori were influenced by the “beat” generation and famous songwriters like Bob Dylan. Their music was lyrically very strong and took on a form similar to poetry. Politics would also shape these songwriters heavily and many would use music to try and shape political ideals.

Although the music of the Cantautori was politically and historically charged, the style of the music reflected the personality of these great musicians. One storyteller named Fabrizio De Andre was interested in Sardinian music and dialect and his music reflected the style as he often talked about darker themes. These themes included poverty, prostitution, rebels, villains and anti-heroes. Another great musician named Angelo Branduardi focused honing his music in the classical genre. Cantautori author Lucio Dalla even blends musical genres together and creates a fusion of different style music. His collaborations are especially interesting because he uses fake English in his music to pique the audience’s interest.

While most of the Cantautori were predominantly men, women also played a large part in the creation of this historic group. Songwriter Mia Martini was one such Cantautori who lived a hard and troubled life. Her songs would often reflect her troubled past and the emotions that she carried. While her music was soulful it was even more powerful because the lyrics she wrote entirely by herself. Another great female Cantautori is Gianna Nannini. What set Gianna apart from other female Cauntatori is her family background, which was unique because her father was president for a soccer team and her brother was a formula 1 rider. Unlike Mia, Gianna focused on a more rock and roll theme and her songs have been viewed by many as being too suggestive. Although women songwriters were not widely recognized it is important to remember their significance in shaping the culture of the Canautori.

Overall the Cantautori movement in Italy centered on several cultural and political changes that were occurring at the time. Their songs acted not only as simple rhythms and beats, but acted as historical records and viewpoints of Italian people. Today their influence continues to live on as the Cantautori continue to shape the music of Italian and American songwriters alike.


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