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Voices of Dissent

Interdisciplinary Approaches to New Italian Popular and Political Music

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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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NPP music is a composite phenomenon that is hard to delimit and define. This book combines several disciplines to describe some of its specific characteristics. NPP musicians are characterised by writing that often deals with political and social contents using a lexicon that expresses typical terms and onomastic elements of the left-wing or right-wing rhetorical tradition. Furthermore, their songs’ language contains several features typical of language identity such as dialects or regional varieties of Italian sometimes combined with foreign languages, usually English and Spanish. In contrast, the music is characterised by the mixing of traditional music with genres developed during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (rock, punk, ska, electronic, etc.). Finally another important characteristic of NPP music is the authors’ clear voices, immediately recognisable by the public.

The authorship of a song is a concept that in popular music was reinforced during the American folk revival,1 and brought fame to the artists that also inspired the French chansonniers.2 Both the American folk revival and the French chansonniers were extremely important in the formation of Italian music after the Second World War. Like American and French singer-songwriters, NPP musicians have an audience that distinctly recognises the style and poetics of each of them. The public’s appreciation of NPP artists is linked to musical, cultural, social, economic, and political factors that crystallised between the 1960s and the 1970s. As Pivato ←281 | 282→highlights, the diffusion of popular music in Italy, since the first experiments like the Cantacronache...

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