Lesson 1: Learning “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu”

Aim:  What are the components of a Sicilian folk song?
Summary: Students learn to sing “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu”; explore the parts of the Sicilian folk songs, including the verse, chorus and wordless refrain; and discover emotion and meaning in the lyrics.
Materials: Musical Explorers digital resources, classroom instruments; crayons, markers, or colored pencils
Standards: GA – ESGMK.PR.1, ESGMK.RE.3, ESGMK.CN.2, ESGM1.PR.1, ESGM1.RE.1, ESGM2.PR.1, ESGM2.RE.1, ESGM2.CN.2
Vocabulary:  accelerando, cantastoria, minor, refrain, ritornello
See Glossary →

Sing “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu”
  • Listen to “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu,” Track 5.01.
  • Learn the words and the melody to the chorus, using “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” pronunciation, Track 5.02 and “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” chorus, Track 5.03.

Track 5.01 – “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu”

Rosa Cantu e Cuntu


Stasira vaiu e curru cu lu ventu

a grapiri li porti di la storia.

Stasira vogliu dari p’un mumentu

la vita a lu passatu e a la memoria

Stasira cu la vampa di l’amuri scavu

na fossa na fossa, na fossa … a lu duluri.

C’è chiù duluri, c’è chiù turmentu 

ca gioia e amuri pi l’umanità, 

Nun è lu chiantu ca cancia lu distinu

Nun è lu scantu ca ferma lu caminu,

Grapu li pugna, cuntu li dita 

restu cu sugnu, scurru la vita.


Cantu e cuntu, cuntu e cantu

pi nun perdiri … lu cuntu.


Le le lo le lo lai …

Nuddu binidicì lu me caminu,

mancu la manu nica d’un parrinu

e vaiu ancora comu va lu ventu,

circari paci sulu p’un mumentu.

Voglio spaccari, spaccari li cieli 

pi fari chioviri …  chioviri amuri.

C’è cu t’inganna c’è cu cumanna 

e cu ‘n silenziu mutu sinni sta,

È lu putiri ca ‘nforza li putenti è lu silenziu c’ammazza l’innuccenti

Grapu li pugna, cuntu li dita 

restu cu sugnu scurru la vita




Tonight I go and run with the wind

to open history’s doors.

Tonight I want to laugh for a moment

to life, the past and memory

Tonight with the spade of love I will dig 

a deep pit for the pain.

There is more pain, more torment, 

than joy and love for humanity,

It is not tears that change our destiny,

It is not fear that stops us on the path,

I open my fists, I count my fingers, 

I stay who I am, I run through life! 


I sing and tell, tell and sing

to not forget … the tale.


Le le lo le lo lai …

No one blessed my path

Not even a priest’s hand

So I just keep running like the wind

searching for a moment’s peace.

I want to break open … break open the skies

so love can rain and rain and rain.

There are those who deceive you, those who command, and those who stay in silence, 

It is power that strengthens the powerful 

It is silence that kills the innocent

I open my fists, I count my fingers

I stay who I am, I seek life.



Track 5.02 – “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” Chorus Pronunciation

Track 5.03 – “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” Chorus

  • Learn the melody to the wordless refrain, using “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” refrain, Track 5.04.

Track 5.04 – “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” Refrain

  • Both the chorus and the refrain can be called ritornelli (plural for ritornello), because they return several times throughout the song.
  • The wordless refrain is an invitation for everyone to join in the singing.
  • Notice that at the end of the song, the refrain starts slowly and speeds up, which is called accelerando.
Explore Major and Minor Keys
  • Sicilian folk songs often express emotions like sadness and anger. Explain that “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu,” like most Sicilian folk songs, is in a minor key.
  • Using Track 5.05 and Track 5.06 compare the major and minor keys by first listening to the two scales and discussing the emotions of each.

Track 5.05 – Major Scale

Track 5.06 – Minor Scale

How does the major scale make you feel?

How does the minor scale make you feel?

Minor keys are often thought to be sad, while major keys are thought to be happy. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

  • Use the Staff Hopscotch Activity from Carnegie Hall’s online Music Educator Toolbox to demonstrate the different patterns of whole and half steps in major and minor scales.
  • Listen to “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” Track 5.01 again, then discuss the emotion in the song and in the lyrics with your students.

Track 5.01 – “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu

What does this song make you feel?

Do the lyrics match that feeling? Why or why not?

Sicilian folk songs are sung with joy and energy; singing brings people together and makes them feel better and stronger.

Creative Extension: “Become a Cantastoria”

  • In Sicilian tradition, a cantastoria is a musical storyteller who travels from town to town, presenting a solo theatrical production. Cantastoria literally means to “sing history.” On a large backdrop, they draw a series of images, graphic-novel style, to sketch out a plot, and then perform the story through narration and improvised song.
  • All storytellers have their own melodies, and cantastorie (the plural of cantastoria) traditionally compete with each other to see who has the best melodies and stories. A video of a famous cantastoria can be found under the Resources for Teachers at the beginning of the unit.
  • The chorus of “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” says “sing and tell, tell and sing, to not forget.” It is a protest song, compelling the community to tell the truth.
  • Why is it important to remember what happened in the past?
  • How do songs and music connect us to the past?
  • Using SG 30, your students will have an opportunity to tell a story that they think is important, using the Sicilian tradition of the cantastoria. They will tell their stories using pictures, words, and melodies, and perform them for each other.
Musical Word Wall

Add the word accelerando, cantastoria, minor, refrain, and ritornello to the Musical Word Wall.
See Glossary →

PDF Downloads

↓ SG32 Become A Cantastoria

Audio Tracks

Track 5.01 – “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu”

Track 5.02 – “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” Chorus Pronunciation

Track 5.03 – “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” Chorus

Track 5.04 – “Rosa Cantu e Cuntu” Refrain

Track 5.05 – Major Scale

Track 5.06 – Minor Scale

Lesson 2: Exploring “Cu Ti Lu Dissi” →

Unit 5 – Sicilian Folk with Amos