Centre de Recherche en Ethnomusicologie

Ferdinand Brunot and the Archives de la Parole

Ferdinand Brunot and the Archives de la Parole

François Picard — view the presentationFRANÇOIS PICARD (Iremus, University Paris 4 Sorbonne, France)

The Archives de la Parole or Spoken Archives have been founded by the French historian of French language and grammarian Ferdinand Brunot at Sorbonne university in 1911. Using a Pathéphone phonograph, he recorded spoken or singing voices, he classified in main sections: I for “interprètes”, O for “orateurs”, L for «langues”, D for “dialectes”. Taking it as a solid corpus, we analyse it using digital tools according to the relation between pitch, intensity and timbre, and find it possible through strong descriptors to recover local, culturally meaningful, categories. The question of whether this new categorisation could be universal will be asked.sessions. This double form of authority is based on what, among the Samburu, is considered as one of the essential features of male leadership: the ability of “dominating the words” in all their forms, both sung and spoken. At the same time, this connection between political debate and soloist singing is not focused exclusively on the double social role of the larikok. The vocal technique that characterizes a big part of the Samburu's musical repertoire, in fact, is definable as a form of speech shaped around the rhythm of the dance. It confers to the melodic contour of the soloist's part the prosodic characteristics of the spoken language, making Samburu choral songs a sort of oratorical confrontation between soloists, very close, structurally and verbally, to the assemblies' debate scheme. The process of decision-making and the composition of the songs' lyrics lead, in both cases, to the creation of accounts which aim to expose opinions and stories based on real events. But if during the assemblies the speakers' purpose is to use their own charisma for the political administration of the community as representatives of an age-grade's or an age-set's interests, during the singing and dancing sessions the soloists have the responsibility to stand for their age-group and share with the listeners the narrative of its collective memory, contributing to assert its presence within the society.