Abstract

This article discusses the relationship between two seminal figures of the 1960s Italian experimental art scene: composer Luigi Nono and neo-avant-garde poet Nanni Balestrini. In particular, it focuses on their collaboration, in 1968, on Contrappunto dialettico alla mente (Dialectical Counterpoint for the Mind), a composition for two-channel magnetic tape based on Adriano Banchieri's 1608 madrigal Contrappunto bestiale alla mente (Bestial Counterpoint for the Mind). On the one hand, this essay provides a contextual analysis of Balestrini's four original poetic texts, which Nono elaborated electronically at the RAI's Studio di Fonologia in Milan. On the other, it demonstrates how the compositional technique used by Nono for Contrappunto dialettico alla mente inspired the later creation of Balestrini's eponymous poem published in 1969. Finally, this article argues for a novel reading of Balestrini's poem as the linguistic attempt at transposing to writing Nono's electronic montage and sound manipulation of the human voice.

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