Colloque Soft Machine - 09 - The Influence of the Canterbury Scene on Italian Progressive Rock around the Mid-1970s (Ruben Marza et Nicolò Palazzetti) Nov. 20, 2020
Organisation : Jacopo COSTA (docteur de l'université de Strasbourg, percussionniste), Elsa GRASSY (maître de conférences en études amériainces à l’université de Strasbourg) et Pierre MICHEL (professeur en musicologie à l'université de Strasbourg, saxophoniste)
Comité scientifique : Jacopo Costa, Philippe Lalitte, Pierre Michel, Nicolò Palazzetti
Support technique et montage des vidéos : Vincent Kuster, Ruben Marzà, Arnaud Zeller
The influence of English progressive rock in Italy constitutes a multifarious and complex phenomenon that shaped the history of Italian rock culture since the late 1960s. The so-called Canterbury Scene has played a key role within the Italian context. This paper provides a new critical overview of the influence and reception of the most prominent groups and musicians belonging to the Canterbury Scene (Soft Machine, Caravan, Matching Mole, Robert Wyatt, etc.) in Italy over the course of the 1970s, while also stressing the specificities of local rock and jazz contexts. This research intends not only to re-evaluate the artistic and cultural legacy of the Canterbury Scene in a specific European country, but also to rediscover a relatively less-known chapter of the history of Italian progressive rock. The methodology combines archival and historical research (including reviews, the list of concerts of Canterbury Scene’s groups in Italy since the early 1970s, personal accounts from founding members of relevant Italian bands) with more in-depth analysis of networks of stylistic influences and questions of poetics.
The Italian reception of the Canterbury scene progressively started over the course of the 1970s (for instance, the Soft Machine made one or two tours per year in Italy from 1972 to 1977). Around the mid-1970s, this diffusion fostered the emergence of a new wave in the Italian progressive rock, increasingly informed not only by psychedelia and jazz improvisation, but also minimalist patterns, folk music quotations, avant-garde references and electronic music. The list of the Italian progressive rock bands influenced by the Canterbury scene in the 1970s most notably comprises Picchio dal Pozzo (formed in Genoa in 1976), Perigeo (that was formed in 1971), Dedalus (formed around 1972 in Pinerolo, Piedmont), Arti e mestieri (from 1974), and Napoli Centrale (from 1975). Further groups that could be – more indirectly – included in the previous list are Area, Goblin and Stormy Six.
Nicolò Palazzetti is a musicologist and cultural historian specialised in twentiethcentury music. He works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the LabEx GREAM, studying the relation between opera and digital media. Prior to join the University of Strasbourg, Nicolò served as a Teaching Fellow in Music at the University of Birmingham from September 2017 to December 2018 and he has been awarded two scholarships from the Fondazione Cini (Venice, 2015–16) and the Sacher Stiftung (Basel, 2018–20). He completed a doctoral thesis in 2017 at the EHESS (Paris) dedicated to Bartók’s reception in Italy. A monograph on this topic is forthcoming with Boydell and Brewer (Bela Bartók in Italy. The Politics of Myth-Making). He has published several academic articles in international peer-reviewed journals, such the International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, the Revue de Musicologie and the Rivista italiana di musicologia.
Ruben Marzà is a musicologist and a saxophonist. Since 2018, he is pursuing a joint doctoral degree both at the University of Florence and at the University of Strasbourg, co-supervised by Prof. Fabrizio Desideri and Alessandro Arbo. His PhD thesis investigates the relation between avant-garde music (including progressive rock) and poetry in Italy after the Second World War. He obtained a Master’s Degree from the University of Florence in 2018, completing a dissertation on the relation between Schönberg and Kandinskij. He is currently completing a peer-reviewed article on the collaboration between composer Luciano Berio and poet Edoardo Sanguineti, especially with regards of their late works, to be published in the Rivista italiana di musicologia. Ruben also works as a professional saxophonist and transcriber. After his studies at the Florence Conservatoire, he won several international competitions both as a soloist (e.g. Premio Pinsuti in Siena in 2018) and as a chamber musician (e.g. Danubia Talents in Rome in 2018). He is currently co-leading a saxophone quartet (Quartetto Cherubini) performing avant-garde twentieth-century music. He has performed in different European countries, including Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, and France.