Trallalero is a kind of polyphonic folk music from the Ligurian region of Genoa, in northern Italy. It is traditionally performed by men, though there are some female performers in the modern era. The name derives from the monosyllabic vocables (non-lexical vocalizations), tra-la-la.
In the 1950s, American musicologist Alan Lomax and Diego Carpitella recorded trallalero. Lomax later claimed he was blown away, and called it the most significant work in his long and storied career. Edward Neill worked to revitalize the tradition in the middle of the 20th century.
Trallalero groups consist of tenor, baritone and bass parts, accompanied by a contralto and a singer whose voice imitates a guitar (chitarra). As the names of parts suggest, the imitation of instrumental styles replaces traditional vocal polyphony: this is a distinguishing feature of this genre. Nine singers are considered a normal line-up: one each of chitarra, tenor, contralto, baritone and five basses.
Group harmony in Liguria is historically associated with mountain villages, where two voices (usually a tenor and a baritone) sung over accompaniment by bass or drone. A repertoire of traditional songs evolved over time, and the style moved to the docks of Genoa, a noted port city. There, metal-workers, longshoremen and stevedores sang trallalero, with the practice peaking in the first three decades of the 20th century. Some trallalero groups are still existing in Genoa and Liguria.