Hypermedia Encyclopedia of the Human Voice

Head: Marta Muscariello, Stefano Lombardi Vallauri

Year 2019

Since the invention of the phonograph, numerous recording archives have been set up with the aim of protecting and preserving the vocal sound heritage (musical, dialectal, etc.), but it is only through digitization that these archives are now accessible to more people; online sound and vocal corpora are also being created to preserve the voice, now increasingly understood as a 'cultural asset' (De Dominicis 2002) with special characteristics - physical and material, on the one hand, but, at the same time, immaterial and transient.

These archives, however, lack metavocal comments that can guide those who consult them to better understand the idioleptic, cultural and psychological characteristics of the voice heard in the recording; and, in addition, these archives can deal with the voice only from the technological possibility of its fixation and reproducibility on a support (i.e. since 1877), but still lacks a cognitive tool that tries to census and interpret the immense vocal heritage.

Of course, the volatility of the voice itself is the cause of the progressive obliteration of the functions and value of the voice in the various epochs; however, the voice has left obvious traces of the way it is produced, of its emission and of its appreciation in written texts (of all kinds) and in iconography.

The project therefore has two main aims:
  • the recovery of the vocal heritage of the past by following its traces, more or less clearly left, in history;
  • the creation of a methodology for voice research that is interdisciplinary, and therefore widely applicable, shared and capable of giving a theory-based and theoretical framework of reference.

The final objective of the project, in the long term, is the construction of an online "Hypermedia Encyclopedia of the Human Voice" which, in the form of various pages, allows the consultation of the voice of individuals or of particular uses of a voice (classified according to purpose, historical period, functional context, etc.). A standard page of the encyclopaedia will contain a vocal sample, classified according to multiple criteria (and therefore referable with various search keys), and enriched by a hypermedia containing the sound analysis (timbre, diastematics, dynamics, etc..) and phonetics and the concomitant functional analysis on different levels (psychological, anthropological, cultural, historical, etc..).