Notes for Roland Barthes Image-Music-Text
The Grain of the Voice
(179) If one looks at the normal practice of music criticism (or, which is often the same thing, of conversations 'on' music), it can readily be seen that a work (or its performance) is only ever translated into the poorest of linguistic categories: the adjective.
Encounter between a language and voice; goes on into a great comparison of two singer using Kiristeva pheno-text and geno-text distinction, P and FK (Panzera and Fischer-Dieskau).
It is this displacement that I want to outline . . . the very precise
space (genre) of the
encounter between a language and a voice.
I shall straightaway give a name to this signifier at the level of
which, I believe, the temptation of ethos can be liquidated (and thus
the adjective banished): the grain,
the grain of the voice when the latter is in a dual posture, a dual
production – of language and of music.
(181) In order to disengage this 'grain' from the acknowledged values of vocal music, I shall use a two fold opposition.
(182) The 'train' is that: the materiality of the body speaking its mother tongue; perhaps, the letter, almost certainly signifiance.
Uses Kristeva to build distinction between pheno-song and geno-song.
the transposition be allowed) covers all the phenomena, all the
features which belong to the structure of the language being sung,
the rules of the genre, the coded from of the melisma, the composer's
idiolect, the style of the interpretation: in short, everything in
the performance which is in the service of communication,
representation, expression. . . . The geno-song
the volume of the singing and speaking voice, the space where
signfications germinate 'from within language and in its very
materiality'; . . . where melody explores how the language works and
identifies with that work. It is, in a very simple word but which
must be taken seriously, the diction
(183) The lung, a stupid organ (lights for cats!), swells but gets no erection; it is in the throat, place where the phonic metal hardens and is segmented, in the mask that signifiance explodes, bringing not the soul but jouissance. With FD, I seem only to hear the lungs, never the tongue, the glottis, the teeth, the mucous membranes, the nose. All of Panzera's art, on the contrary, was in the letters, not in the bellows (simple technical feature: you never heard him breathe but only divide up the phrase. An extreme rigour of thought regulated the prosody of the enunciation and the phonic economy of the French language; prejudices (generally stemming from oratorical and ecclesiastical diction) were overthrown.
(185) If you like Schubert but not FD, then Schubert is today forbidden you – an example of that positive censorship (censorship by repletion) which characterizes mass culture though it is never criticized. His art – expressive, dramatic, sentimentally clear, borne by a voice lacking in any 'grain', in signifying weight, fits will with the demands of an average culture.
Ironic that I heard a story on NPR this Sunday afternoon about architecture deliberately built to look like gutters wore out in the middle.
(185) The song must speak, must write – for what is produced at the level of the geno-song is finally writing.
Pheno-text is externalized to Sterne. Could you jump to Sterne from here by going back a step first?
(189) which is paradoxical in that the various manners of playing are all flattened out into perfection: nothing is left but pheno-text.
Barthes, Roland, and Stephen Heath. Image, Music, Text. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977. Print.