Ex Omnibus Linguis Reviews of
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Reviews by
Serge Lacasse, Québec

Argument Les cahiers de la SQRM Les Cahiers de l'O.M.F. MUSURGIA

Argument: politique, société et histoire
ISSN 1481-3971

Review in RPM#29 (Winter/Spring 1999/2000)

1999, vol. 2, no. 1.
Special Issue
'Rock, Punk, Rap: Culture or Imposture?

The discussion takes the form of a debate. Five articles have thus been written in that special issue around that theme. Here they are (translations in brackets):

  1. Robitaille, Antoine. 'Présentation' (Presentation): p. 18-20.
  2. Soucy, Gaétan. 'Bâtons rompus sur la notion de culture, sur le rock'n'roll, sur la littérature jeunesse, sur Sid Vicious, sur toutes sortes d'affaires'. (About this and that on the notion of Culture, on rock'n'roll, on children literature, on Sid Vicious, on all kinds of things': p. 21-34.
  3. Chabot, Marc. 'La déroute des anges' (The Rout of the Angels): p. 35-39.
  4. Thibeault, Pierre. 'De la vie longtemps' (About Life for Long): p. 40-44.
  5. Belkhodja, Chedley. 'Le gangsta rap: une atteinte au thème de la noirceur' (Gangsta Rap: An Attack on the Theme of Darkness): p. 45-53. 

In fact, the article by Soucy has started the controversy, notably about the alienation (supposedly) provoked by rock'n'roll on youth.

Les cahiers de la SQRM
(Société québécoise de recherche en musique: musiques et sociétés)

ISSN 1480-1132

Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

1998, vol. 2/1, pp. 9-18
Serge Lacasse
"Musique rock enregistrée et mise en scène de la voix: résultats préliminaires"
("Recorded Rock Music and the Mise en scène of Voice: Preliminary Results")

As a cultural phenomenon, rock music possesses its own set of codes and conventions which are understood by the listener. This article deals with one of the elements that convey meaning in rock music: the staging of the voice, which can be defined as the manner in which the recorded voice is presented to the listener. Production effects, for example, may cause the voice to be heard with reverberation, echoes, or harmonic distortion. The main focus of this article is a preliminary test of perception that was given to non-musical subjects (N=128). Based on the semantic differential method of Osgood, the test aims to identify the connotations conveyed by eight different staging effects. When analyzed in conjunction with certain observations made when repertoire is heard, the results tend to indicate that staging effects of the recorded voice can indeed serve as messengers of meaning.

1998, vol. 2/1, pp. 19-22
Louise Morand
"Arts et médias: l'horizon du style chez Frank Zappa"
("Arts and Media: Frank Zappa and His Horizon of Style")

The media have been very significant in Frank Zappa's works since the beginning of his career, not only as means of diffusion, but also as inseparable components of his artistic expression. The media culture acts as a sphere of reference possessing the composite elements and complexes of variable (emotional) intensities associated with musical composition. Two major features of Frank Zappa's works reveal the influence of the media: firstly, there is the simultaneous presence of several contemporary styles that are often juxtaposed with or superimposed on each other; secondly, the spoken voice is used to refer to aesthetic as well as political realms. The convergence of musical and linguistic styles in the works of Frank Zappa opens a new rhythmic dimension and dramatizes languages. It is an imaginary counterpart of the division of languages promoted by the media and authorities in society.

Les Cahiers de l'O.M.F.
L'Observatoire Musical Français)L'Observatoire Musical Français)L'Observatoire Musical Français)L'Observatoire Musical Français)


Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

1997, vol  2, pp 36-54
Catherine Rudent
"L'apport de la presse spécialisée dans l'analyse des musiques populaires modernes:
quelques exemples"
("The Contribution of Specialized Press in the Analysis of Modern Popular Music")

Musical press which is designed for a mass audience sometimes offer what one could call "analyses" of musical pieces. But such analyses are much different from what would be done by a rigorous and meticulous musicologist. On the other hand, press can help musicological analysis to the extent that it reveals some intimate relations between a particular style of music and other social, economical and moral categories otherwise difficult to identify.

ISSN 1257-7537

Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

1998, vol  5, 2 (November 1998), pp 9-19
Antoine Hennion
"D'une distribution fâcheuse: analyse sociale pour les musiques populaires, analyse musicale pour les musiques savantes"
(An Awkward Distribution: Social Analysis for Popular Music, Musical Analysis for Art Music)

Why is there still no more satisfactory analysis of Popular Music? Because the traditional musicology was born and has developed within the field of European art music. Performative, though it pretends to be constitutive, it has conceived methods suitable to that particular music, defining what had to be dealt with (harmonic and thematic structure, development devices) and what had not. Such a distinction would be different concerning Popular Music. But proposing two different methods of analysis, one for art music, the other for Popular Music, would not be a solution either. It would insist on what is actually a false opposition. For "Popular Music" is only a name for "what is not art music". It is nothing more than a negative definition. In order to escape to that unsatisfactory category, we have to analyze musical objects (instruments, scores, records), users and mediations through which music is made. It would also do away with the illusion of its autonomy. For the way people nowadays love and practice music is a mixture of musical and non-musical elements, whatever kind of music it is.

1998, vol  5, 2 (November 1998), pp 65-75
Jean-Marie Jacono
"Analyser les chansons de rap"
(Analysing Rap Songs):

Many musicians underestimate the richness and inventiveness of the rap songs: however, these can be revealed by musical analysis. In this paper, which includes precise examples, are produced, for the first time, a series of analysis parameters (declamation, structure, sound aspects) through which appear the many different rhythmic conceptions used in rap music.

1998, vol  5, 2 (November 1998), pp 21-28
Catherine Rudent
"Analyse des musiques populaires modernes: un état des lieux"
(Musical Analysis of Modern Popular Music: A Survey)

When trying to analyze modern Popular musics, musicologists all have encountered the same difficulties: giving a sense to a music so simple that it may be considered trivial, writing something which was not intended to be written, accounting for new sophisticated technological facts. This paper describes how they have dealt with those problems and reflects upon the semiological and sociological analyses of Popular Music [concerns mainly French researchers].

1998, vol  5, 2 (November 1998), pp 29-46
Gérard Authelain
"L'analyse des chansons"
(The Analysis of Songs)

More and more people (especially among teachers) wish they were able to understand and to explain why a song appeals to them. It is possible by identifying the most prominent sounds; then, by looking for the melodic stresses, the phrases and the harmonic functions. By writing these elements on a score, we get a clear diagram of the song framework. This becomes more complete if we also write down the most important elements of voicing. After that, we must consider arrangement, rhythmic patterns, and how the singer mixes his personal rhythm and voice into the instrumental datas. We also must examine whether the song has the same formal organization as the lyrics, or whether it creates its own. Through all these devices (of which many examples are given) we can get more aware of the meaning of the song, and even perceive what we could call its mythic aspects.

1998, vol  5, 2 (November 1998), pp 47-53
Frédéric Bertrand
"La 'composition' pour guitare dans le Rock'n'Roll: problèmes d'analyse"
(The "Composition" for Guitar in Rock Music: Problems of Analysis)

When analyzing Rock'n'Roll pieces for guitar, one encounters many difficulties. The score, when there is one, cannot give a realistic idea of what is the most specific to the analyzed work. It is not precise about the effects or the ornamental, technical and instrumental devices. It often simply does not mention them at all. These characteristics are however very important, because they have an impact on other aspects of the piece, such as the harmonic or melodic material. To achieve an efficient analysis of a guitar piece, one has therefore to use a specific way of writing the music, and must also know very closely how to play the instrument.

1998, vol  5, 2 (November 1998), pp 77-85
Serge Lacasse
"L'analyse des rapports texte-musique dans la musique populaire:
le cas des paramètres technologiques"
(Text-Music Relationships in Recorded Popular Music:Technological Parameters)

In rock music, technological musical parameters can be thought of as voice 'modulators', producing effects of mise en scène: a voice with harmonic distortion is perceived as aggressive; the level of reverberation provides feeling of distance (either material or symbolic), while echo may suggest different kinds of 'strangeness' as well as having a pure rhythmical role. This diversity brings out the importance of taking into account technological parameters when analyzing rock music. In fact, technological parameters intervene as much as in the sonic organization of the musical piece as in the spatial construction during the listening process; and above all it participates in the construction of a meaning of music which, of course, is related with the lyrics, but not exclusively.

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