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Barzeletta and Frottola


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Italian Verse

The Barzeletta (also spelled Barzelletta): Like many 15th century forms, the Barzeletta has differing definitions of theme and frame. A predominant thesis is that the Barzeletta is a nonsense poem, (a funny story or "carnival song" often composed as a joke with moral instruction). It was developed for or from the Frottola, a 14th century musical form with a poetic subcategory. Other definitions take the genre more seriously suggesting Barzelettas were love songs. (Which to some might also be interpreted as a nonsense poem.) One thing sources all agree on is the Barzeletta was originally written for musical settings.

Apparently there are also two frames attributed to the Barzeletta. Sites on the internet describe the Barzeletta with a two part structure. This two part structure is connected to or synonymous with the Frottola. However, two very reputable sources the NPEOPP and Turco's Book of Forms.give examples of an unrhymed couplet structure and Turco suggests a blank verse frame.

  • The elements of the "couplet" Barzeletta are:
    1. lyrical.
    2. stanzaic, written in any number of couplets.
    3. metered, often iambic (Turco suggests Blank Verse which would be unrhymed iambic pentameter), line length optional although originally octasyllablic.
    4. often written employing internal rhyme, end words are usually unrhymed.
    5. written with wit and a didactic (instructional) and/or aphoric (concise statement of scientific principal) tone.
    6. often follows other stanzaic forms.

      Barzelletta by Jan Haag

      Look what the cat dragged in by Barbara Hartman

      Some say a stitch in time saves nine,
      unless you drink wine past its prime.

      What's done is done, the die is cast,
      we'll have a blast with everyone.

      Time flies when you are having fun,
      we've just begun to exercise.

      I bit off more than I could chew,
      it's up to you to mop the floor.

      All these clichés hold grains of truth
      and in my youth were often told.

  • The elements of the "2 part" Barzeletta with the Frottola frame are:
    1. stanzaic, written 2 to 5 sixains or octaves made up of couplets.
    2. metered, often irregular. One source suggest trochaic The line length is optional although originally octasyllabic.
    3. written with a ripreso or refrain of 4 lines rhymed abba or abab, which opens the poem and is repeated (often using only 2 of the 4 lines) preceding each stanza.
    4. usually written employing internal rhyme, end words are sometimes unrhymed although I have found 2 sources that indicate rhyme scheme cdcdda for a 6 line stanza or cdcddeea for an 8 line stanza. Rhyme does not change from stanza to stanza.
    5. written with wit and a didactic (instructional) and/or aphoric (concise statement of scientific principal) tone.
    6. composed with a volta at the end of each stanza. (the last line of each stanza links to the refrain).

      Sideshow by Judi Van Gorder

      Pure nonsense I've written in rhyme
      a Barzeletta, a carnival song.
      Roll of a drum excites the throng
      while daredevil diver starts his climb.

      Side show hawkers call out with ease
      to draw the gawkers forth in glee
      a freak show guaranteed to please
      "See two headed frog from Tennessee!"
      Naked ladies, young boys look-see,
      they giggle and wiggle in fear
      too scared of their moms to draw near,
      but dancers in veils are sublime.

      Roll of a drum excites the throng
      while daredevil diver starts his climb.

      Fill your tummy, hot dog, a squeeze
      of mustard, a cotton candy spree,
      ice cream, slurpies and chili cheese
      fries all puke up in harmony.
      Indulge in summer fantasy
      soak up the playful atmosphere
      just feast and cheer, let's chug a beer.
      Pay your dime and have a good time.

      Pure nonsense I've written in rhyme
      a Barzeletta, a carnival song.

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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