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Bossis, Bruno

La voix et la machine. La vocalité artificielle dans la musique contemporaine


Tuesday 19 July 2005, by Pierre Couprie

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The author analyses the characteristics of the use of the voice as made and/or manipulated by technology. The first part contains a history of early experiments from the first speaking devices in the eighteenth century to the first electroacoustic studios (Paris, Cologne, Milan) in the 1950s. The second part explores computer-based vocal synthesis and modeling techniques. He also analyses two works: Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco (1980) by Jonathan Harvey for tape and Les chants de l’amour (1984) by Gérard Grisey for 12 voices and tape. The final part includes an analysis of the role of “vocalité artificielle” (artificial voice) in the imagination of poets and composers through various subjects: the relations between music and text, the notions of rupture and continuity, the role of the computer and the relationships between subject (natural voice) and portrait (artificial voice). An important bibliography completes the book.

Table of Contents:

  1. Song of the machine: from dream to reality
    - First stammering
    - A machine culture
    - Up to the music itself
    - The analog post-Schaeffer
  2. Towards a digital dematerialisation
    - The meeting of the voice and data processing
    - “Vocalité artificielle” and modeling
    - From the CHANT program to the musical works
  3. From the creation to the imaginary
    - The voice of the machine, interpretation of a text
    - Technology, rupture, continuity
    - Between figure and disfiguration
    - Paradoxes and ambiguities
    Conclusion: a generalised continuum
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