Every year, around the middle of September, is held the Regional Festival of Singing off the Cuff, an event involving the greatest improvisers of central Italy.

Singing off the Cuff is a typical activity of the ancient peasant societies, especially in the mountains of Abruzzo, where the singers improvised moments of celebration in the farmyards, in the bars, at parties.

The songs were mostly satirical and the topics were varied: religion, family, love, social, current affairs and politics. All themes were to be treated ‘contrast’: mother-in-law-daughter-in-law, father-son, mountain-plains, sea-sky, priest-farmer, shepherd-worker, quiet-storm, etc.

The rhymes follow a strict logic, as in the well-known poems of Ariosto among the peasants. The linked eighth rhyme was the technique used with a verse composed of eight rhymed syllables.

The skill of the poet is to embarrass your opponent to the amusement of the participants and to close the eighth line with a very difficult rhyme. In fact, everyone should alternate singing following the verse of the companion who precedes him.

 

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