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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 3 Italian New Popular and Political Music and Literature



The aim of this chapter is to highlight the relationship between politically committed musicians and literature. My reason for including a chapter on this topic is due to the fact that the discographies of the artists contain a significant number of literary quotations. These Italian NPP artists make a political use of literature in their songs starting with the choice of the authors and the novels they mention. They normally quote from symbolic novels about resistance or militant authors. Considering the vast number of references to literature with political aims in the lyrics of these musicians, it was necessary to dedicate an entire chapter to the topic. I have divided this chapter into five parts. In the first three I have analysed examples of literary elements re-worked from Italian literature, the most common being neorealism and resistance literature. I have also mentioned children’s literature because a very representative author of this kind of literature, Gianni Rodari, had a militant past as a partisan and left-wing activist. In the last two parts I have described the relationship between Italian NPP music and the literature of two countries, France and Russia, in order to demonstrate the influence of foreign literature, other than that of Britain and America from which most of the examples of borrowed literary elements are taken. One of the most interesting results revealed by this analysis is that these musicians act in a way similar to neorealist writers. Neorealism has always been a literary...

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