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Garbuglia, Andrea: "Berberian’s Stripsody and Comics’ Musical Vocation." In: Sonus. A Journal of Investigations into Global Musical Possibilities 31.2 (2011), S. 44–58.
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|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Garbuglia2011a
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Keywords: "Stripsody", Berberian. Cathy, Musik, Onomatopöie
Collection: Sonus. A Journal of Investigations into Global Musical Possibilities
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Between 1965 and 1966, Cathy Berberian, Lucian Berio and Eugenio Carmi were working, independently from one another, at three new, astonishing and ground-breaking opuses. Luciano Berio was composing his Sequenza III (for woman’s voice). His intent was to give musical dignity to all the daily aspects of human vocal behaviour, even the most trivial and incidental, and to move listeners’ attention to the voice as a sound in itself. “The voice – he says in the Introduction to Sequenzas – always signifies something, always refer to something other than itself and create a vast range of associations. In Sequenza III I tried to assimilate into a musical process many aspects of everyday vocal behaviour, trivial ones included, though without allowing this to distance me from certain intermediate aspects and indeed real singing” [Berio, 1998, p. 12]. Cathy Berberian – who at the time was still Berio’s muse and fellow worker, but no longer his wife (they had divorced in 1964) – was writing a composition in which she used sonic material derived from comic-strips. In the mid sixties, comics were undergoing an artistic re-evaluation and a scrupulous semiotic investigation. Umberto Eco, for instance, wrote about comics in Apocalypse Postponed, originally published in 1964. On the other hand, since 1961, and precisely with his Look Mickey, Roy Lichtenstein had started using the style of comic-strips and in 1963 he depicted his famous Drowning Girl. Nevertheless, we cannot consider Berberian’s composition merely as a musical reflection on comics, nor the acoustic counterpart of these innovative tendencies. Her decision to use comics onomatopoeias as raw material for a musical composition does not simply mirror Berio’s intent, but – as we will see – it also represents a radically new paradigm and a totally different musical conception. Even if they barely knew each other, during the same period Eugenio Carmi was depicting a series of fourteen plates dedicated to the graphic representation of comics onomatopoeias. If Cathy Berberian was interested in the musical latency of comics sounds, Carmi was interested in their graphic potentiality. Eventually, Carmi and Berberian got in touch and had some meetings – probably attended by Berio and Eco as well – during which their parallel interests were discussed. The result was that they decided to use the same title for their works, Stripsody, and to publish them together [Carmi, 1966]. In the pages ahead, I shall investigate the theoretical implications and the musical perspectives which could be derived from Berberian’s Stripsody. In order to reach this result, I shall first problematize the role played by sounds and music in comic-strips, an issue not often approached by scholars nor by musicians.
Added by: joachim Last edited by: joachim