Project

​ItalianSongWriters.com is not for profit.
It is intended for educational and scholarly purposes.

​This site was initially developed by Francesco Ciabattoni thanks to a Grant-in-Aid by Georgetown University

Methodological Note about Lyrics Transcription.

The site www.italiansongwriters.com has a primarily educational purpose and aims to spread Italian culture to a global audience by translating the most significant songs and contextualizing Italian singer-songwriters from the 1950s onward (although some singers have also been added who are not songwriters). Precisely because it was born as a teaching resource, of high quality and rigorous standards for a publicly accessible website, the selection of songs and artists is somewhat arbitrary and the transcription of song lyrics was carried out following a general methodology to make the whole process as consistent as possible. Except for the songs by Francesco De Gregori, for whose lyrics we followed the edition by Enrico De Regibus (Francesco De Gregori. I testi. La storia delle canzoni, Giunti Editore, 2020) because they were approved by De Gregori himself, the criteria taken into account are set out below.

 

Transcribing song lyrics is a forceful, unnatural and necessarily imperfect operation: the song is a complex text, composed of many characteristics (words, music, voice, image, movement) and is essentially oral in its sonorous form, the transcription of the lyrics (paroles, letras, testo letterario, Liedtext) presents new textual problems that have no easy solution. For example, how should we add punctuation and capital letters? where should we break the line if the music itself does not clearly suggest it? how should we transcribe phonetic ambiguities or glossolalìa? And even before addressing these specific problems, to what extent is it legitimate or useful to transcribe graphically these non-verbal elements of the text, which obviously can vary according to different interpretations of the same piece? In this regard, it must be specified that, without wanting to extend the status of auctor in the classical sense of the literary sciences to every songwriter or singer, we should nevertheless recognize that certain songwriters have paid attention to the transcription and edition of their lyrics: for example, Francesco De Gregori edited the edition of his entire corpus of song lyrics, as cited above, and Francesco Guccini has selected about fifty of his texts for a volume (F. Guccini, Canzoni, 2018).

Another essential caveat is that, for the transcriptions on this website, we referred to the first studio recording of each song. We believe that the original recording should be considered the version licensed by the author and the singer: here, therefore, we did not respect “last will of the author” in the strict sense, but only of the final result as recorded in the studio version first released. Sometimes the video linked on Youtube will instead be of a live or later version, but this choice is due to specific cultural and entertainment interests, and has nothing to do with the transcription of the text.

With these few methodological principles in place, the site remains primarily a support for teaching and for the dissemination of Italian culture to the broader world, with no ambitions to represent a textual or philological model for the edition of musical texts. We thank the authors and all those who have contributed to its creation.