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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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Verse structure and time patterns in the a mutetus extemporary sung poetry of Southern Sardinia


Introduction. A mutetus extemporary sung poetry

The mutetu longu (or briefly: mutetu; plural: mutetus longus) is currently the most important form used by semi-professional poets (called cantadoris) performing poetical duels (known as cantadas; singular: cantada) in Sardinian-Campidanese extemporary poetry.

These contests are usually held as part of the celebrations which take place on the occasion of patronal feasts in the villages in the southern part of Sardinia. In its typical setting, the cantada is performed by four singing poets and three accompanists. In the first section of the cantada (mutetada), the metrical form used is the mutetu longu, and the singing poets are accompanied by a two-part choir (called bàsciu e contra), who use nonsense vocal sounds to support the free rhythm voices of the improvisers. In the second section (versada), the metrical form adopted is the versu, which is much shorter and simpler than the mutetu longu, with accompaniment provided by a guitarist (Figure 1).1 ← 149 | 150 →

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