The following discussion will explore ‘American Pie’, the landmark 1971 recording by Don McLean. More than fifty years after its initial release, the song/track continues to fascinate listeners with its appealing musical setting and its wealth of possible meanings. Here, McLean seems to be reporting poetically on the condition of a society in danger of spinning wildly out of control. In the process, he foregrounds the importance of the singer-songwriter as a kind of early warning system for human culture. The creative strategies McLean employed for ‘American Pie’ had their origins in his earlier works. Don McLean’s first album, “Tapestry’’ (1970), featured a series of character sketches in which he cast a critical eye on the realities of town and country life. The title track, however, was more ambitious in scope. There, he made a plea for environmental awareness by conjuring up a rich and vivid landscape as the overarching context for human experience. When the time came to compose ‘American Pie’, McLean seemed to creatively blend both of these approaches. The result might best be described as a sonic mural in which the main character/narrator recounts his own experiences the day the music died, and then connects them within the larger context of a culture headed into chaos. The discussion presented here will employ Songscape analysis, an approach designed to engage a recorded work on its own terms. It consists of explorations of musical form done from the perspective of the composer, descriptions of the recording process, and interpretations of the sonic imagery evident on the finished track. It also allows for the consideration of entire albums as galleries of recorded sound. It should be noted that the goal here is not to reduce or to explain. Instead, it is hoped that this discussion will help generate new insights into a compelling work of art.
This contribution is dedicated to Paolo Conte, singer-songwriter and pianist of international success, whose work seems to represent one of the most eloquent programmatic expressions of musica per poesia (“music for poetry”) ever conceived by a composer and performer of songs. Applying musicological and cultural work tools, the analytical trajectory will finally concern Conte’s overall musical-poetic language, whose nature becomes increasingly clear as not just heterogeneous but above all mixed, mestizo, syncretic, or even more accurately, “transcultural”.
This article is centered on a specific moment in Lucio Dalla’s career, a major singer-songwriter in Italy. Unlike many cantautori of his generation, who authored lyrics and music from their beginnings, Lucio Dalla gradually became a cantautore, in the most restrictive sense of the word – a singer who interprets songs he composed and wrote. He started out in the end of the 1950s as a jazz clarinet player. To become a singer, he needed the intervention of his first mentor, Gino Paoli. Then, Dalla gradually turned his hands to music writing, together with various lyricists and with increasing personal involvement. This article first retraces this process and its various stages, and then focuses on a particularly important moment: the transition to writing lyrics after the collaboration between Lucio Dalla and the poet Roberto Roversi, between 1973 and 1976. The songs of these albums were created following radical rules: Roversi wrote texts without any particular metric, Dalla was in charge of finding the regularities which are essential to a musical setting, barely communicating with the poet during the recording process. The collaboration with Roversi gave Dalla the impetus to dare writing his own lyrics, but also taught him a number of literary tools and techniques that later strongly characterized his style as a singer-songwriter. This study sheds a new light on two peculiar features that Dalla drew from this experience: the ability to play with elasticity in the process of setting poetic text to music, and the ability to offer portraits and stories in an extremely synthetic way.
The role of cantautore has occupied a significant space in Italian musical culture (especially in the period between the 1970s and the 1980s) and has defined a fairly well-defined and recognizable form of cultural expression. For a brief period Lucio Dalla has identified himself, or rather he was identified, with the cantautore label, of which the article also specifies some peculiar features, as the analysis of Dalla’s figure is also an opportunity to ask how well this label fits him. The topic is approached from a semiotic perspective, that is, by trying to identify the different positions that Lucio Dalla held in his artistic path, through the identity traits that defined him, considering the literature him dedicated, in his old and recent interviews, as well as in the endless narratives that working partners, friends and journalists have produced. Lucio Dalla has been an artist who struggled enormously to achieve success: a journey of difficult search for artistic identity, which, once defined, became profound and enduring, and continued to grow even after his untimely death in 2012. This approach seems an interesting way of being able to look at artistic and creative processes, showing them as semiotically dense processes, involving a range of actors and leading to the production of specific discursive configurations.
The social, cultural, communicative, and technological transformations that took place during the Eighties have marked the subsequent evolution of the recent Italian history. From this point of view, we must consider that period as a non-linear process of modernization, capable of influencing, in both positive and negative terms, habits and traditions, consumption practices and fruition modes, political ideologies and cultural visions. In this regard, the paper aims to reflect on the relationship between the figure of the songwriter and the media landscape of the Eighties. More particularly, it focused on the forms and modalities of presence and representations of the songwriter in the Italian television context of that period, considering the rise of new television logics given by the challenge between public and private networks. The purpose is to analyse both the influence of the new Italian television landscape and structure on the different forms of mediation of the songwriter, and the effects of a possible mediatization related to the figure of the songwriter, activated by the growing centrality of communication from those years.
Since 1974, and to this day, the Club Tenco of Sanremo – an institution founded by music enthusiasts in the wake of the suicide of singer-songwriter Luigi Tenco in 1967 – has organized the “Rassegna della canzone d’autore” (Auteur song festival), a gathering place for the canzone d’autore community. Through the discourses it has produced and disseminated over half a century through its publications, and through the “Rassegna” itself – still today the most important festival for Italian singer-songwriters – the Club Tenco has championed a problematic equation between authorship and aesthetic value, and has established itself as a fundamental gatekeeper of taste in the field of canzone. Studying the musicking of the Rassegna thus opens a door for investigating the processes through which popular music aesthetics are constructed in Italy. This article presents an ethnography of the Club Tenco’s Rassegna della canzone d’autore based on observations and dialogues with participants – musicians, audience members, professionals – collected during repeated participations between 2007 and 2019. This methodological approach is integrated with research on documents in the Club Tenco archive (letters, press reviews, press releases, etc.), and dialogues with previous research.
In the last decade, an articulate series of legislative initiatives intervened on the Italian performing arts institutional framework. Although several studies have analysed this process, its effects on the regional scale still need to be addressed. This work therefore aims at identifying some economic trends in the performing arts sector in the period 2014-2020, focusing on public expenditure on the State and regional level through extensive quantitative research. For the first time, the financial records of 5.261 enterprises of the performing arts sector are compared to the budgetary provisions of the Ministry of Culture and to the expenditure of 86 Banking foundations, 20 Regions, 4 Provinces, 7 Metropolitan cities, and 62 Municipalities. The present study offers a preliminary analysis of a broader and still ongoing research, revealing a problematic and sometimes unexpected overview of the behaviour of the theatrical market in an age of deep transformations.
Through several attempts to moralize cinema over the first half of the Twentieth century, Catholics have gradually gained enough power to develop film policies and strategies (Biltereyst - Treveri Gennari, 2015) to produce and disseminate healthy and public knowledge regarding the cinematic medium. Direct consequences of these guidelines seem to concern foremost the education of those audiences who used to attend parishes, venues, and other Catholic centers involved with film screenings and cultural symposia. The educational role played by Italian Jesuits helps us understand the proliferation of these discourses to a greater extent. Depth analysis on the relationship between the Society and cinema is still an under-researched topic that could underlie some political aspects of Catholic culture in Italy, shedding more light on the impact Jesuits had in the production and dissemination of national and local film knowledge. After the 1950s, their cultural efforts focused on North-Eastern Italy offer a crucial example of how the Society of Jesus dealt with these goals. From the frequent film courses held by Father Antonio Covi SJ at the Antonianum college, in Padua, to those intended for schools in Conegliano, as well as the cineforum organized in Gorizia and the various public statements in the city of Trieste, these initiatives were interconnected and designed in response to the Church needs for producing film culture in each of the above areas. Therefore, what emerges is a transparent portion of a more comprehensive Jesuit Network (Della Maggiore - Subini, 2018) through which the production of film discourses contributed, likely, to delineating a film culture shared with novices, scholars, and citizens. The analysis here proposed questioning the Jesuits’ placement within the organized plurality of discourses in the formation of reasoned knowledge about the educational effectiveness of cinema. Following these suggestions, the paper deals with the northeastern Jesuits’ initiatives and their role as a vehicle of knowledge among the mentioned geographical lands.
This paper focuses on Shakespeare’s Richard III and its transposition in Patrick Warren’s manga version of the play. Published in 2007, this comics book is part of the Manga Shakespeare series, published by SelfMadeHero. Like all the volumes of the series, also Richard III has proved to be reading tool for teenagers who are approaching the Bard and his works. Both the original play and the manga comics book are based on the description of Richard as suggested by the ancient theory of physical deformity conditioning and shaping a man’s mind, as found in Aristotle and in many other philosophers over the centuries. Penned in support to Henry VII’s propaganda to the throne, Shakespeare’s Richard is indebted to Thomas More’s description of the English king in his History of King Richard III. In full agreement with his cultural tradition, Shakespeare’s Richard’s misshapen body turns to be the external evidence of his Mephistophelian nature. This devilish disposition is behind the creation of his character in the manga version of the Shakespearean play. Far from the re-evaluation of Richard’s character after the discovery of his remains in 2012, Warren’s manga comics book conveys the king’s devilish nature through images which prove to be highly significant in relation to Richard’s fame and his representations from the late 20th century onwards. Particular attention is given to Richard’s physical appearance and to the comparison between him and Henry VII Tudor.