Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
Kid Songs and Rhymes of
Italy
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Italian

English

A Be Bow (Counting Out Rhyme)
Aulì ulè (Counting-out Rhyme)
Clap Your Hands (Fingerplay)
Bobo the Scale (Nursery Rhyme)
Goat, Little Goat (Nursery Rhyme)
One Hundred and Fifty (Counting-out Rhyme)
There Once Was a King (Nursery Rhyme)
Chimney, Chimney (Nursery rhyme)
The Thumb Says (Finger Play)
Go to Sleep, Go to Sleepy (Lullaby)  MP3 Midi  
Ambarabai ciccì coccò (Nonsense Rhyme)  
Frère Jacques   MP3  
Baby Jesus (A Carol)  
The Child's Horse (Lap Rhyme)
La Befana, Frizzy, Frizzy (La Befana Song) MP3
The Befana Comes at Night (Befana Rhyme) MP3  
The Pretty Washerwoman (Children's Game Song)  
The Hen   Midi  
The Moon (Counting-out Rhyme)
Firefly, Firefly (Nursery Rhyme)
Mom, Give Me A Hundred Pounds (Traditional song)  Midi  
Maramao (Nursery Rhyme)
Milan Turin (Counting-out Song)
Brother Simon's Lullaby (Lullaby)  MP3
Infant Jesus' Lullaby (Lullaby)  MP3 Midi
Lullaby, Lullaby, ooh (Lullaby)  Midi
Oh, What a Fine Castle (Circle Game Song)  
Peppina, Get a Comb (Tongue Twister)
Plaza, Pretty Plaza (Finger Play)
Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia Song) MP3 Midi  
Chair, Little Chair (Lap Rhyme)  
Silk Money (Lullaby)  
Silk Money (Counting-out Rhyme)
Under the Malacca Bridge (Counting-out Song)  
Staccia Minaccia (Lap Rhyme)
Star, Little Star (Lullaby)  Midi  
Tacci and Taccin (Nursery Rhyme)
A Lot of Wishes for You (Birthday Song)
Mousie, Mousey Zum Ba Ba (Handclapping Rhyme)  
Thirty Days Has November (Nursery Rhyme)
Trot, Trot Horsey (Lap Rhyme)  
Trucci Trucci Cavallucci (Nursery Rhyme)
You Come Down from the Stars (A Carol)  MP3 Midi  
A Piece of Pizza (Tongue Twister)
Gentle Wind (Round)  

Italian Dialect

English

Giddy-up, Giddy-up Horsey (Nursery Rhyme)
Dong Dong Dalena (Nursery Rhyme)
Funiculì, Funiculà (Traditional Song)  
Coo-roo, Coo-roo (Nursery Rhyme)
My Sun (Traditional Song)
Saint Nicholas of Bari (Saint Nicholas Day Rhyme)  
Saw Saw, Master Ciccio (Nursery Rhyme)
You Little Finger (Finger Play)
Trot, Trot, Little Horse (Nursery Rhyme)

Latin

English

O Come, All Ye Faithful (A Carol)  MP3 Midi  
Give Us Peace (Round)  MP3 Midi
Sleep Son, Sleep! (Christmas Song)
Rejoice! (A Carol)  MP3 Midi
This Day Resounds (A Carol) MP3
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Advent Hymn) MP3

Sicilian Dialect

English

How Beautiful is this Hat (Nursery Rhyme)  
Oh Come Sleep (Lullaby) MP3
Get Up, Baby (Christmas Rhyme)
Spring Has Come (Folk Song)  
 
KEY TO SYMBOLS
  •   - this song has sheet music
  • Midi - this song has a Midi tune
  • MP3 - this song has an MP3 recording
  •   - this song has a Video recording

Some Comments About Italian Nursery Rhymes

In Italy, the older, traditional filastrocche (nursery rhymes) and songs for children are an endangered species; many of them are not in "official" Italian (which is based on the dialects of Tuscany), but in one of the regional dialects. These dialects, mainly used in the home and in small rural communities, have been handed down orally. But in many regions the use of dialect is declining even within the family, especially among TV-hungry 6-10 year olds(1), so the collective memory of these traditional filastrocche and songs in dialect risks fading with it(2). A few scholars have painstakingly and lovingly collected and studied them(3) but most of these collections and studies of traditional rhymes are for interested adults rather than for children(4).

Italian children don't all grow up knowing and loving the same nursery rhymes in the way that most children growing up in an English-speaking environment do. However, many of the filastrocche do exist in more or less similar versions in different dialects (and some in other European languages - e.g., the Scottish "Pippety Pew" and the French "Frère Jacques").

Traditional Italian filastrocche reflect Christian tradition (many lullabies are about the Infant Jesus and the holy family), and, more obscurely and symbolically, pre-Christian rites, the Moon, the Tarot, magic, the labyrinth, the spirit of corn, the cycle of life - birth, marriage and death - and of the year - seasons, harvest, Lent, Carnival, etc.

-Commentary by Ernestine Shargool

1) According to surveys carried out by Istat, the Institute of Statistics, in 1987-88 and 1995.
2) The use of dialects may be declining, but interest in them (perhaps as a consequence) seems to be increasing. There are many Italian publishers and web sites collecting and publishing traditional filastrocche, proverbs, songs, sayings, poems and prose in different dialects.
3) E.g., the books I have used for reference: Carlo Lapucci, Il libro delle filastrocche, Garzanti, 1987; A. Mari, A.V. Savona, M.L. Straniero: Sotto la Cappa del Camino, Arnoldo Mondadori, 1985; Silvia Goi, Il segreto delle filastrocche, Xenia Edizioni, 1991.
4) Some much-loved modern children's authors have written and published their own very popular collections of filastrocche.

Ernestine Shargool is a professional translator with an Anglo-Italian background and a lifelong interest in children's rhymes and folk tales from Italy, England and Scotland. She has translated many traditional nursery rhymes from English into Italian.

Click Here for bibliography of Italian selections.

Many thanks to Ernestine Shargool for taking the time to write commentary about Italian nursery rhymes and songs. -Grazie!

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