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Voices of Dissent

Interdisciplinary Approaches to New Italian Popular and Political Music


Giovanni Pietro Vitali

This book is an interdisciplinary analysis of an art form that is crucial to the understanding of Italian contemporary society: political music from the 1960s to today. The musical activities of left-wing and right-wing bands and singer-songwriters reveal deep rifts in a country which, even today, has not yet come to terms with fascism, the political hatred of the Years of Lead, nor the social division of the 2000s, which climaxed in the Genoa Group of Eight summit in 2001.

This book aims to describe Italian political music, highlighting its relationship with important international genres like American folk music revival, the French chansonniers, punk, ska, reggae and alterlatino as well as traditional music from all over the world. These musical influences shed light on a connection to linguistic dynamics that particularly binds the Italian, Spanish, French and English languages.

A case study based on a corpus of forty-one bands and singer-songwriters uses cultural, digital humanities and literary techniques to provide insights into the sociolinguistic aspects of Italian and reveal the linguistic patterns that are typical of politics and gender discourse. The book also presents a comparative study of the relationship between the lyrics of new popular musicians and literature across the globe.

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Chapter 2 New Popular and Political Music from Local to Global and from Traditional to Contemporaneous


CHAPTER 2New Popular and Political Music from Local to Global and from Traditional to Contemporaneous


The aim of this chapter is to describe the results of a thematic and linguistic analysis on a corpus of lyrics of a given group of forty-two singer-songwriters and bands. This investigation on the language and themes approached by those artists was carried out using digital tools typical of natural language processing, stylometry, network analysis, mapping and spatial humanities. I chose these artists because they offer a fair representation of musicians of each of the periods taken into consideration, from the end of the 1960s to today, the end of the 2010s. More artists can be included in this analysis but this corpus contains sufficient text for use with digital tools and a suitable number of artists to make the corpus large enough, but not so large as to confuse the reader, especially a non-Italian speaker. The chapter is divided into two parts in which I approached first the description and the historical classification of these forty-two musicians and then, in the second part, I analysed the linguistic and thematic particularities of the corpus.

Italian NPP music with its hybrid nature is a symbol of the clash between local traditional music and international music, which gradually arrived in Italy, bringing with it the prevailing global musical trends.1 Starting with Herder, several scholars have highlighted that folk music has always ←97 | 98→had the characteristic of a ‘coupled identity’2...

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