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Text and Tune

On the Association of Music and Lyrics in Sung Verse


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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For the anisosyllabic whim of the Romance Middle Ages: Disciplines and non-regularity in the lyric poetry


Calling to mind Popper’s rough sentence (1983:5)1 the word ‘disciplines’ in the heading signifies only the ‘system of rules’ or, at least, a ‘classifying practice’. This paper will focus on current methods and possibilities to rationalise the phenomena of syllabic irregularity,2 on the consistency of our processes meant to discipline formal asymmetries, in particular for the sung verse. In this context we will concentrate on a subsection of the Old French lyric corpus, characterised by the anisosyllabism that we may define lyric, i.e. the one that can be found in multistrophic poems where corresponding lines, supposedly isosyllabic, are in hypo- or hypermetrical deviation. In addition, an authorial intention causing this anisostrophism should be demonstrated. Our point of view will try to be merely ecdotic: we will deliberately encourage an excessive rigour and a strict probatory praxis in order to avoid any confusion between elements involved in the downward time direction (copy, performance) and elements concerning the opposite one, referred to the logic reconstruction of texts.

First of all, problems lay on definitions. It is hard to find a homogeneity, without renouncing the accuracy, of pan-Romance definitions and this hesitation reveals that the inductive care has not reached sufficient margins of analytic (i.e. descriptive) completeness yet, thus hindering the possibility of establishing solid definitions that may serve as a starting point to deductive actions. But here is the question: with regard to anisosyllabism, are inductive processes legitimate and scientifically correct? Does the possibility of...

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