Genoese trallalero is a form of traditional polyphonic song performed a cappella by men gathered in ensembles named squadre (teams). The number of singers varies from eight (the ideal) to twelve or thirteen. Each squadra comprises 4 soloists and a group of bassi (basses). The soloists are the contralto, aka contraeto (countertenor), the tenore, aka primmo (tenor), the baritono, aka controbasso (baritone) and the chitarra vocale, aka a chitära (vocal guitar).
There are no written scores. Yet as diligent study during rehearsals reduces improvisation to the strict minimum, one could talk of orally-passedon-and-learned scores. The tonality of trallalero oscillates between G and A. Other tonalities can be used in more ancient repertoires, but only on an exceptional basis.
The term trallalero refers to an anonymous traditional piece. Verses, usually in Italian, are speckled with dialect terms. The rare and certainly more recent trallalleri sung in dialect have similar criteria. The lyrics of old trallalleri were gleaned here and about amongst texts of even older origin. Such facts can still be observed in other traditions. Once pieces were shorten and adapted, spaces between sentences were filled with “la-la-la” sounds, following the singers’ imagination and interpretation skills.Songwriter pieces represent a major part of the repertoire. These songs in the Genoese dialect were integrated into the squadre repertoire in the 1920s.