Annie Labussière

Form through Gesture: Formal Implications in the Analysis of Traditional Chant 'à voix nue

When traditional chant expresses itself ‘à voix nue’, that is to say without support of any instrument likely to double it melodically or to sustain it rhythmically, it reveals its total consistency with the accents of the language that is used, its inflexions, breaks, deep rhythms. This produces ‘gestures’ of the melody, which progresses by phrases, phrase members and sections, in such a way that a possible ‘paradigmization’ of these elements may induce a formal analysis.
Specific analytical tools have been created and have long been probated through this singular research centred on a well-specified vocal corpus. This method measures the organization of the melodic line on a theoretical scale, a general scalar order with which each melody is compared, whatever its geographical and cultural origin. This method allows to identify, in each form of intonation ‘à voix nue’, the articulation of vocal segments, to define its interval form and to draw its dynamic structure. These ‘vocal gestures’, clearly identifiable as driving force of melodic continuity, may be classified into a finite number of paradigms and intonation profiles, which constitute themselves as many universals of chant.