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Paolo Bravi: Singing voice analysis and visualization between manual transcription and instrumental analysis

Mon 22. Jun - 18:00

In the field of ethnomusicology, musical transcription has been a central and problematic issue for a long time. Problems regarding scales, intervals, rhythms, timbric ‘anomalies’ etc. make the usual Western way of writing music not completely suitable, effective and affordable in the case of music based on different codes. For this reason, musical transcriptions on the score must sometimes be considered with suspicion
and caution. The digital era offers analytical instruments which may serve to solve at least some of the problems related to the use of the score as a method for visualizing music melodies. Furthermore,
these instruments allow analyses which were virtually impossible for most ethnomusicologists until a few decades ago. Praat, a well-known software developed by Paul Boersma and David Weenink and designed for phonetic studies, may also be helpful in analyses concerning the singing voice. The presentation will describe how singing voices can be interpreted by a (human) transcriber and analysed instrumentally, how the two representations may be compared and how they enable us to visualize music phenomena and investigate their structures.

Currently a contract professor of “Mediterranean musical cultures” at the School of Ethnomusicology of the Conservatorio di Musica “Palestrina” in Cagliari (IT), Paolo Bravi has two Ph.D.s in “Methodologies of Anthropological Research” (University of Siena, 2008) and in “Theories and History of Languages” (University of Sassari, 2013). His research focuses on the formal features and cultural values of singing and spoken voices in oral traditions and adopts models, techniques and research methods from both ethnomusicology and phonetics. In this field he has published more than thirty contributions (parts of collective volumes, conference proceedings, journals etc.) and the monograph A sa moda campidanesa. Pratiche, poetiche e voci degli improvvisatori nella Sardegna meridionale (Nuoro: ISRE, 2010).