Errico Pavese

Interpreting and representing micro-rhythmic discrepancies and spatial dimensions in Dolcenera and A Cúmba by De André and Fossati

The paper is a report of a research that concerns the stylistic features of Fabrizio De André (1940-1999) and Ivano Fossati (1954), two of the most representative Italian ‘cantautori’ (singer-songwriters), with a special focus on microvariations in temporal and sound dimensions of musical recordings. The presentation examines, in particular, two case-studies (songs) from Anime Salve (“Saved Souls”, 1996), the late collaborative work of De André and Fossati, and explores the specific ways in which experimentation and manipulation practices occur on a micro-rhythm level in connection with the evolution of recording and sound technologies.
In the first part of the paper the analysis focuses on instrumentation and sound-sources in general: what instruments sound like, how they work together, where they appear to be situated in the soundbox (Moore 2012), including other aspects of the experience of listening to sound (like echo and reverberation) that enable the construction of senses of space (Moylan 2002). The second part of the paper examines how specific decisions made during recording sessions by musicians, engineers, and the producer impact on micro-rhythmic discrepancies. The musical analysis consists basically of sound analysis with digital technologies (waveform, spectral analysis) and comparison of some illustrative musical examples. The analysis of the particular song rhythmic structure gives the opportunity to discuss certain aspects that relate to the description of grooves and micro-rhythmic discrepancies as a means to distinguish the work and to convey a distinct authorial production identity (Gillespie 2006). One of the main aims of this research, therefore, is the development of an adequate methodology and forms of representations as a result of sound analysis with digital technologies (waveforms, spectrums, spectrograms, etc.). A further aim of the paper is to reveal how innovation processes in the recording studio work in the ‘canzone d’autore’ and song production in general.