Conference rationale & Call for papers

For a long time, the voice, embodied and fleeting, remained mute for music analysis. The privilege traditionally accorded by musicology and music theory to writing, both as composition and notation, and to instrumental music often relegated the voice in performance to a second-order, non-objectifiable musical dimension. The literature was dominated by pedagogical (singing treatises), physiological or acoustical,[1] philosophical or psychoanalytical considerations. Furthermore, except for certain singular vocal practices—most of which non-European[2]—, this work focused almost exclusively on singing in the Western art music tradition.

The situation is much different nowadays. In diversifying repertoires and ways of approaching them, and especially in revalorizing performance and the body that conveys it, the questioning of dominant ideologies by the “new” or “critical” musicology that emerged in the 1980s has helped to create a more favorable space for the voice within music studies, analysis included. The contemporary rise of popular music studies has played at least as important a role, insofar as most of it focuses on phonographic vocal music.[3]

In recent years, musical analysis of the voice has thus met with unprecedented enthusiasm. This is not without its difficulties, however. Analysis does to the voice what a prism does to light: it breaks it down, revealing its complexity. Brian Kane distinguishes in the voice (phoné) its sound (echos), real or imagined place of emission (topos), and meaning (logos)—all mediated by bodily techniques and technologies (technê).[4] Maintaining the precarious balance between these complementary facets of the voice, which call for a multiplicity of different research fields to be mobilized at once, presents a challenge (from the highly specialized acoustic analysis of certain vocal techniques[5] to their organizing as a network around the elaboration of a singing style).

The close examination of the voice in its sonic materiality, a necessary yet not sufficient moment of analysis, is similarly problematic. Following pioneering work such as that of Serge Lacasse,[6] the conceptual models advanced by Céline Chabot-Canet in 2013[7] or Victoria Malawey in 2020[8] attest to the dizzying array of parameters that may come into play, but also to their profound disparity. The study of the voice in performance in its globality and unity, and of the way in which the multitude of microphenomena that comprise it are articulated, must then transcend the scattering of a fragmented analysis to achieve an understanding of the macrostructural phenomena in which they participate, linked to contexts, to the definition of styles, or interpretative strategies specific to an artist or a genre.[9]

Between the objectification of an acoustic phenomenon through sonograms—a tool that until recently was the prerogative of a few specialists, but whose democratization now seems well underway[10]—or even quantification and computerized processing,[11] and the subjectivity of an embodied perception—more than one analysis is based on a mimetic approach[12]—the study of the voice in music accommodates a wide variety of approaches. In 2016, the international conference “La voix dans les chansons, approches musicologiques” (Université Lyon 2 and Université Paris-Sorbonne, March 3-4, 2016) reported on a wealth of new research experiments and innovative analytical methods in this emerging field of study, often crossing disciplinary boundaries.[13]

In a context where recent developments in signal processing applied to the voice, notably enabled by artificial intelligence, are opening pathways to new analytical potentialities, and dispelling many of the obstacles hitherto faced by analysis, the international conference “New Perspectives in Musical Analysis of the Voice” would like to constitute a new milestone in a dynamic and rapidly evolving field of study. This conference is open to all vocal repertoires in their aesthetic diversity and the multiplicity of their vocal modalities, from the first recorded voices to the most recent productions, including forms of musicalized speech or chanted declamation such as rap. Moreover, while popular music is undeniably at the forefront of voice analysis, there is no reason to restrict ourselves to it, and the vocal repertoires of Western art music may also be called upon.

The voice often requires analysts to innovate their tools, and the methodological dimension will be a privileged aspect. As this conference marks the conclusion of the “Analysis and tRansformation of singing Style” research project[14] (Université Lumière Lyon 2, Ircam, Institut d’Alembert LAM, Sorbonne Université, Flux Audio), jointly led by music analysts and signal processing specialists, collaborative, interdisciplinary work and the use of the possibilities offered by computational analysis will be appreciated, while opening up to a non-restrictive diversity of perspectives and approaches.

Suggested themes (non-exhaustive list)

  • Structural analysis of the singing voice or musicalized speech.
  • Harmonic and melodic analysis techniques applied to the voice.
  • Methods and techniques for voice analysis.
  • New technological and computational perspectives on voice analysis.
  • Stylistic and rhetorical approaches to voice analysis.
  • Acoustic, physiological and interdisciplinary exploration of specific vocal techniques, interpretive effects, and various ways of using the voice.
  • Study of rhythm, vocal timbre, phrasing, etc.
  •  . . .

Submission guidelines

We invite you to submit your paper proposal by JANUARY 15, 2024. Proposals, which should include an abstract (no more than 2500 characters, in English or French) and a short bio-bibliographical note, should be sent jointly to Antoine Petit ( and Céline Chabot-Canet (

Reponses will be given no later than January 20, 2023.

Proceedings will be published.

Scientific Committee

Céline Chabot-Canet, Muriel Joubert, Antoine Petit, Axel Roebel, Catherine Rudent.


Antoine Petit (doctorant), Céline Chabot-Canet (MCF), Passages Arts & Littératures (XX-XXI), Université Lumière Lyon 2. Axel Roebe, Ircam, STMS Lab, Sorbonne Université.

Part of the ANR project “Analysis and tRansformation of singing Style” (ANR-19-CE38-0001-03).

[1]  For a representative example, see Johan Sundberg, The Science of the Singing Voice (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1987).

[2]  For a remarkable example, see Hugo Zemp, Bernard Lortat-Jacob and Gilles Léothaud, Les voix du monde: une anthologie des expressions vocales (Arles: Le chant du monde, 1996).

[3]  See for instance Richard Middleton, Studying Popular Music (Milton Keynes/Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1990); David Brackett, Interpreting Popular Music (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995); Allan F. Moore ed., Analyzing Popular Music (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

[4]  Brian Kane, “The Model Voice,” Colloquy: Why Voice Now?, Journal of the American Musicological Society 68, no. 3 (2015): 671–677.

[5]  Nathalie Henrich-Bernardoni, ed., La voix chantée, entre sciences et pratiques (Bruxelles: De Boeck Université, 2014); Nathalie Henrich-Bernardoni, “La voix timbrée dans les chansons: considérations physiologiques et acoustiques,” Volume! 16–17, no. 2–1 (2020): 49–61; Claire Pillot-Loiseau, Lucie Garrigues et al., “Le human beatbox entre musique et parole: quelques indices acoustiques et physiologiques,” Volume! 16–17, no. 2–1 (2020): 125–143.

[6]  Serge Lacasse, “Listen to My Voice”: The Evocative Power of Vocal Staging in Recorded Rock Music and Other Forms of Vocal Expression (PhD thesis, University of Liverpool, 2000); “The Phonographic Voice: Paralinguistic Features and Phonographic Staging in Popular Music Singing,“ in Recorded Music: Society, Technology, and Performance, ed. Amanda Bayley (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010): 225–251.

[7]  Céline Chabot-Canet, Interprétation, phrasé et rhétorique vocale dans la chanson française depuis 1950: expliciter l’indicible de la voix (PhD thesis, Université Lumière Lyon 2, 2013): 65ff.

[8]  Victoria Malawey, A Blaze of Light in Every Word: Analyzing the Popular Singing Voice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020): 7ff.

[9]  See for instance Catherine Rudent, “Oublier ‘The grain of the voice‘: étudier la voix dans les chansons,” Volume! 16-17, no. 2-1 (2020) : 7–26 ; Céline Chabot-Canet, “L’analyse spectrale au fondement d’une rhétorique des styles interprétatifs dans la chanson française,” Volume! 16–17, no. 2–1 (2020) : 29-47.

[10] See for instance Drew Nobile, “Alanis Morissette’s Voices,” Music Theory Online 28, no. 4 (2022).

[11] See for instance Yann Teytaut, Antoine Petit et al., “A Musicological Pipeline for Singing Voice Style analysis with Neural Voice Processing and Alignment,” Actes des Journées d’Informatique Musicale 2023 (2023): 219–228. https://jim2023
; Mitchell Ohriner, Flow: The Rhythmic Voice in Rap Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019); Céline Chabot-Canet, “Entre universalité et singularité: l’interprétation vocale abordée par l’outil informatique,” Musimédiane 11 (2019), proceedings of the Journées d’Analyse Musicale 2014.

[12] See for instance Kate Heidemann, “A System for Describing Vocal Timbre in Popular Song,” Music Theory Online 22, no. 1 (2016).; Philip Tagg, Music’s Meanings: A Modern Musicology for Non-Musos (New York/Huddersfield: The Mass Media Music Scholars’ Press, 2013): chapter 10.

[13] Proceedings published in Catherine Rudent and Céline Chabot-Canet, ed., La voix pop: nouveaux outils, nouvelles approches analytiquesVolume! 16–17, no. 2-1 (2020).

[14] Website of the ANR project “ARS”: