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The Meaning Behind The Song: Tammuriata Nera by Nuova Compagnia Di Canto Popolare

The Meaning Behind The Song: Tammuriata Nera by Nuova Compagnia Di Canto Popolare


One of the beautiful aspects of music is its ability to convey powerful emotions and tell captivating stories. “Tammuriata Nera” by Nuova Compagnia Di Canto Popolare achieves both of these feats, leaving a lasting impact on listeners. I first discovered this song on a rainy afternoon while browsing through my friend’s record collection. Little did I know that this song would leave a profound mark on me.

The Melody and Lyrics

The melodic composition of “Tammuriata Nera” is steeped in the traditional sounds of Napoli. It carries a sense of nostalgia, evoking memories of a bygone era. The song tells the story of a woman who gives birth to a mixed-race child, conceived during the American occupation. The lyrics depict the mother’s attempts to deny the child’s origin, highlighting the humorous irony that regardless of her perspective, the child’s identity as a black individual remains unchanged.

As I listened to the song for the first time, I was struck by the poetic beauty of the lyrics. The poignant message hidden within the seemingly jovial melody made me ponder the complexities of identity and societal perceptions.

Historical and Cultural Context

Nuova Compagnia Di Canto Popolare released “Tammuriata Nera” in 1974. The song originally dates back to 1944, a time when Naples was under American occupation during World War II. It is important to understand the historical and cultural context in which this song was created and performed. The occupation brought about social, cultural, and racial tensions that greatly influenced the themes portrayed in this piece.

However, it is crucial to note that the song has faced criticism for its portrayal of race. In modern times, it has been labeled as racist, with some arguing that it perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Artists like James Senese, an Italian saxophonist and son of a Neapolitan woman and an American soldier, have criticized the song.


Despite the controversy surrounding “Tammuriata Nera,” it remains a poignant piece of music that sheds light on the complexities of identity and racial perceptions. Personally, this song has taught me the importance of understanding historical and cultural contexts, acknowledging the limitations of art in portraying sensitive subjects, and engaging in critical discussions surrounding such songs.

As I reflect on the haunting melody and thought-provoking lyrics of “Tammuriata Nera,” I recognize the power of music to challenge societal norms and inspire meaningful conversations. It serves as a reminder that art, even when controversial, has the capability to encourage introspection, empathy, and understanding.

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