chapter  11
14 Pages

The physiognomy of the voice

Vocal gestures in Italian experimental music (1960–1970)
WithMichela Garda

The commonsensical meaning of gesture is a movement of the body, which expresses a meaning or an emotion. Gestures can substitute speech, conveying autonomous information or coexisting with it, assisting its communicative function in various ways. Speaking of vocal gestures involves, therefore, a shift to a metaphorical level, because voice does not belong, strictly speaking, to the body, but it is a product of it. Moreover, voice is the medium of language. The voice whatever it does, even the simplest noise, is inescapably meaningful: it always triggers associations and it always carries within itself a model whether natural or cultural. The inscription of the ‘voices of the body’ in art music does not require an absolute disruption of the subjectivity, but calls for a renegotiation of the cast off dimension of the voice-body, which has been active forever in the oral musical tradition.