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Text and Tune

On the Association of Music and Lyrics in Sung Verse


Edited By Teresa Proto, Paolo Canettieri and Gianluca Valenti

This book offers an overview of issues related to the regulated, formal organization of sound and speech in verse intended for singing. Particularly, it is concerned with the structural properties and underlying mechanisms involved in the association of lyrics and music. While in spoken verse the underlying metrical scheme is grounded in the prosody of the language in which it is composed, in sung verse the structure is created by the mapping of specific prosodic units of the text (syllables, moras, tones, etc.) onto the rhythmic-melodic structure provided by the tune. Studying how this mapping procedure takes place across different musical genres and styles is valuable for what it can add to our knowledge of language and music in general, and also for what it can teach us about individual languages and poetic traditions. In terms of empirical coverage, the collection includes a wide variety of (Western) languages and metrical/musical forms, ranging from the Latin hexameter to the Norwegian stev, from the French chant courtois to the Sardinian mutetu longu. Readers interested in formal analyses of vocal music, or in metrics and linguistics, will find useful insights here.
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Poetry and music in archaic and classical Greece. Some thoughts



Our life is immersed in sounds. Cars’ horns, engines’ roars, TV screams and murmurs, music echoing in public places, an infinity of voices, harmonies, rings or plain noises to whose existence we have grown insensitive, unless all that suddenly stops, for one reason or another. Our life goes on inside a veritable phonosphere. And in the ancient world? What was ancients’ phonosphere like?

With these observations, in a recent, beautiful book, Maurizio Bettini sets out tackling the question of the ancient phonosphere.1 Even if Bettini chooses to deal with music but cursorily, privileging generally neglected aspects of the ancient sonorous landscape (sounds and noises; animals’ voices; birds’ song, and so forth), music was without a doubt a fundamental ingredient of the archaic and classical Greek phonosphere.2 In order to assess this fact, it suffices us to recall the largely central role that music played in the mythical narratives. We may recall, for example, the doings of the many legendary divine singers, whose ← 15 | 16 → tidings are recorded in our sources: Orpheus, to be sure, but the Theban Amphion as well, capable of moving stones by the sound of his lyre, or Thamyris, the Thracian singer that was blinded for challenging the Muses and deprived of his divine singing and of the art of lyre playing (Hom. Il. II 594–600), or else the tales of divine heuresis of musical instruments (an outstanding example being the invention of the lyre by Hermes).3 As a matter of...

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