Reference : Lyrics, Music and Voice: a Comparative Semiotics of Emotions in Cole Porter's "Miss O...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Lyrics, Music and Voice: a Comparative Semiotics of Emotions in Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets"
[fr] Paroles, musique et voix : une étude sémiotique des émotions dans "Miss Otis regrets" de Cole Porter
Lindenberg Lemos, Carolina mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > > > Form. doct. langues & lettres]
Language, Culture and Mind V, "Book of Abstracts". Dispolible sur < > (consulté le 27/12/2012).
Language, Culture and Mind V
du 27 juin 2012 au 29 juin 2012
Universidade Católica Portuguesa
[en] enunciation ; song interpretation ; emotions
[en] What makes for an engaging song? One may credit the lyrics, another the melody, but in fact the two components are indissociable (Tatit, 2007). In Cole Porter's “Miss Otis Regrets”, we are introduced to the sad account of Miss Otis. The lyrics give us fragments of her story but not from her point of view. How, then, do we relate to her tragedy? In this paper, a comparative semiotic approach to lyrics, music, and voice will be used to demonstrate the narrator is key to this process. It is from the latter's point of view that we approach the story.
First, an analysis of the linguistic component, based on Greimas (1983; 1987) and Zilberberg (1988; 2006), will show how the choice of vocabulary and repetitions subtly disagree with the values assumed by the community that condemns Miss Otis. However, non-linguistic components also play a central role. Following Tatit's (1997; 2007) proposals for the semiotic approach to songs, we will investigate how Porter's choices of accents, elongations and the exploration of pitch range emphasize the points that are most filled with emotions in the narrative. Melody and lyrics are shown to work together in the construction of the emotional connotations. Nonetheless, it is only when it is no longer in paper, but in the form of an actual execution, that the song may be said to move. We then explore the well-known rendition of Ella Fitzgerald. Despite the accompanying piano, we focus here on the voice as the place where linguistic and musical components meet.
Our analysis compares the recording and the original score in order to assess the level of adequacy and change that the interpreter promoted. Variations in notes, stress, and rhythm may be shown to change the original direction dramatically, while others offer accentuated distinctions that were already in place. In all cases, the singer’s transformations take the song a step further in its emotional contents. Adopting this comparative semiotic approach, we reestablish the chain that extracts the emotions from the narrative, to the music, and to the voice, showing that the path that ensures the emotional attachment of the listener is in the integration of the three components: lyrics, music, and voice.

Greimas, A. J. (1983). “De la colère: étude de sémantique lexicale” In: Du sens II. Paris: Seuil, p. 225-246.
__________ (1987). De l'imperfection. Périgueux: Fanlac.
Tatit, L. (1997). Musicando a Semiótica: Ensaios. São Paulo: Annablume.
__________ (2007). Semiótica da Canção: Melodia e Letra. São Paulo: Escuta.
Zilberberg, C. (1988). Raison et poétique du sens. Paris: PUF.
__________ (2006). Eléments de grammaire tensive. Limoges: Pulim.
Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (Brésil)
Les effets de la répétition dans la modulation tensive des textes

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