S08-02 09

Epistolarity in Music: A Multimodal Analysis of Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat”


Deja tu comentario

Participa en esta ponencia enviádole tu pregunta o comentario a los autores

Añadir comentario


profile avatar
Manuela FranciaUniversità G. D'Annunzio Chieti-Pescara


This paper examines the correlations between writing and listening, specifically focusing on the interplay between poetry and sound.

Frequently, singers and artists envision music as a means for expressing emotions and experiences that have been previously conveyed through written correspondence.

The entertainment field has consistently maintained a profound connection with epistolarity.

Following Low’s theories on rhyming songs, my aim is to examine the structure and meaning of the legendary Leonard Cohen’s song entitled “Famous Blue Raincoat” (1971), as well as its reinterpretation by several other musicians. My purpose is also to explore and compare the original English lyrics with the Italian version, which was translated and adapted by Fabrizio De Andrè and Sergio Bardotti and to conduct a comprehensive analysis. In addition, I will also focus on translating particular lines from English to Italian, considering culture-bound terms.

I therefore suggest a comprehensive investigation of the contamination between artistic, musical and epistolary writing, paying particular attention to the structure, language, content and meaning of the performances investigated.

I will investigate further into the significance of the letters and the methods by which they were incorporated into music, including the melodic, harmonic, and compositional levels.

Songs are an artistic-literary form of immense value, allowing individuals to express vulnerable feelings and emotions that may be challenging to articulate in other contexts. Music is highly interconnected with all ages and civilizations. Songs today relate to a new type of poetry to which every person feels close, reading through sounds.

Preguntas y comentarios al autor/es

    • profile avatar

      Miriam Jiménez Bernal

      Comentó el 15/03/2024 a las 20:32:29

      Hello Manuela!
      What an interesting topic! It makes me think of how many love songs could be considered "letters".
      Do you think that some of the strategies for translating and adapting references and very specific cultural elements could also be used to adapt the original song to the present, to engage young people in a different way? I'm just wondering, because I have noticed some of my younger students do not feel connected to music from the past century.
      Thanks for your work!

      • profile avatar

        Manuela Francia

        Comentó el 15/03/2024 a las 21:36:10

        Hello, Miriam. Thank you very much for your response and question!
        I agree with you! Unfortunately, young people do not care about "old" music, or at least do not want to know about it, because they believe it is outdated and thus uninteresting or unrelated to their current lives.
        Yes, I believe translation strategies could be employed to "modernise" many songs, even if I think that, except for their "age", a lot of them explore the same subjects that the new ones.
        Young people need to feel involved in prior stories so that they can relate to and begin to enjoy them.

    • profile avatar

      Isabel Granda Rossi

      Comentó el 15/03/2024 a las 19:27:50

      Manuela, thank you for this very interesting speech! Very interesting, well-organized and captivating.

      • profile avatar

        Manuela Francia

        Comentó el 15/03/2024 a las 20:14:27

        Hi Isabel, I really appreciate your support! I am pleased that you enjoyed my work.
        Thank you!

    • profile avatar

      Maria C. Bravo

      Comentó el 15/03/2024 a las 11:45:38

      Manuela, your presentation reminded me of a translation of a short story by "my" author, Mia Couto, that was adapted for stage by a South-African scholar. His adaptation focused more on conveying the African sounds and rhythms present in the original Portuguese source text, than closely respecting the literary content. It was very well received by the South African audience. The intention and purpose in the adaptations of Leonard Cohen's song seem to be similar. Just a thought...
      Thank you.

      • profile avatar

        Manuela Francia

        Comentó el 15/03/2024 a las 12:06:35

        Hi, Maria, thank you immensely for your time and consideration, I appreciate it so much.
        I noticed that your presentation closely aligns with my research, and I am interested in learning more about the story that was adapted for the stage by a South African scholar you were talking about.
        Could you give me additional details or direct me to a source where I can find helpful information? I am enthusiastic to gather more information on the subject.
        Here is my email address for you to use if you wish to share any details with me.
        Thank you again,

        • profile avatar

          Maria C. Bravo

          Comentó el 15/03/2024 a las 12:43:32

          It is my pleasure: the South African scholar is Mark Fleishman and he has an article in the South African Literary Journal, "Migrating Mia Couto's voice[s]: strategies of translation across the borders of genre and nation" (2019). It is downloadable. We can keep exchanging ideas and findings. My email is: cbravo@ualg.pt
          Thank you also,

    • profile avatar

      Maria C. Bravo

      Comentó el 14/03/2024 a las 16:08:34

      Hi Manuela! Thank you for your interesting topic.
      The Italian translations of Cohen's song appear less focused on conveying accurately or closely the meaning and content of the original but more concerned with producing the rhythmic structure and vocality. Do you consider this to be a loss?

      • profile avatar

        Manuela Francia

        Comentó el 14/03/2024 a las 18:42:17

        Hi Maria, thank you so much for your question. I have consistently pondered the same concern.
        There are other culture-specific terminology that should be modified to enhance the song's transferability, such as replacing references to New York with Milan, or Clinton Street with "L'Angolo".
        The sentence "And Jane came by with a lock of your hair" is different in Italian because it would be too long. In this case, the translator chose to prioritise the metric rather than providing a word-for-word translation. Instead, they selected a sentence that conveys the sense of nostalgia and longing for someone.
        These examples illustrate my belief that considering this singable translation is not a loss. Sometimes, in order to transmit the same idea in a different way, a singable translation may need to sacrifice something perceived "unimportant" and make other changes.
        I sincerely hope that I successfully answered your question and I thank you very much.

Deja tu comentario

Lo siento, debes estar conectado para publicar un comentario.


Egregius Ediciones


Configuración de Cookies

Utilizamos cookies para mejorar su experiencia y las funcionalidades de esta web. Ver política de cookies