The Sanremo 2023 Festival, the 73rd, is here.
Twenty-eight competing artists, from melodic pop to trap for the youngest, there is something for all tastes. But how are the songs for Sanremo born?
Maurizio Parafioriti, producer and sound director, explains it to us, who takes care of the sound design of Paola & Clare.
How is a song born?
Maurizio Parafioriti: "The way of making music has changed incredibly in the last fifty years.
Technology has dismembered what was once a collective process, choral but intended for a few. To put together a song, music, lyrics and arrangement, we had to meet. At different stages everyone was involved in building a piece.
No doubt this took creativity to a different level and the skills were much less widespread, in the hands of a few.
The product that came out had a different strength and intensity.
Today, half of a piece can be recorded in Budapest by an orchestra, a quarter in a studio and the rest in the author's home. And technology has greatly democratized skills. The files are put together and the finished song is born.
It's not worse and it's not better - it's just a different way. The most immediate fallout is that strange Ikea effect: pleasant songs, well written and well arranged, which however create a very homogeneous mood and with few peaks".
How are the songs of the Sanremo Festival 2023?
Maurizio Parafioriti: “There is a high quality, both of artists and of music. Marco Mengoni is in a moment of great maturity and has a very beautiful piece.
Giorgia, despite being a great voice, has a piece that is perhaps less incisive than usual. The younger ones, such as Madame, Ariete, Coma_Cose, continue their stylistic line, but in Sanremo they obviously bring songs more suited to the melodic context and the heterogeneity of the public.
And the orchestra adapts to more technological arrangements: an attitude that until recently was unpopular. There is an interesting exchange between two different ways of making music, where the tradition adapts to the new and vice versa. The results are often interesting”.
Shall we talk about traps?
Maurizio Parafioriti: “It's easy to say that it's elementary, vulgar, in the hands of little educated kids and with very few musical skills. But the trap has its own typological specificity.
The repetitive and simple texts describe marginalized realities, in which all shared values are lost. Women are treated as objects, drugs are normalized, as are violence and weapons.
However, I want to underline some contradictions worthy of being observed. The use of language, although elementary, has a decisive experimentation metric.
The repetition and simplicity of concepts reverberate a culture that relies more and more on images and less and less on words. The concepts are therefore expressed with allegories and metaphors that are often very ironic and creative.
Without forgetting that there are trappers with great poetic ability”.
However, a trap piece is not built like any other song…
Maurizio Parafioriti: “Normally the producer is the central figure, or the person capable of building a base arranged in a sensible way. It's not simple, so much so that there are almost more famous producers than singers.
On the basis, the trapper builds a phrasing, a spoken and sung text. The dynamic is that of American rap, in which improvisation was the central talent of the artist. The beat is often entrusted to specialized companies. This is true in general: there are also individual cases in which the trapper does a 360° job, like a songwriter”.
What determines the success of an artist today?
Maurizio Parafioriti: “Communication is the main factor, provided that there is a sufficiently solid content. Whether it's the record labels or the artists themselves, the diffusion of social content and the large marketing investment are the real engines of an important success from the point of view of numbers".
However, many young people have become famous through YouTube, however…
Maurizio Parafioriti: "It's an initial factor, especially valid for the trap circuit. Social networks give visibility, those with talent emerge.
The same is true for television programs such as Amici or XFactor: it is the record companies that choose who to really invest in”.
Fashion seems to have carved out a role for itself in the music industry. Is that really the case?
Maurizio Parafioriti: “The Gucci fashion house is the one that has bet most on this strategy. And so far he's been right. The Maneskins, Achille Lauro… from a stylistic point of view they are his creatures.
And leaving the Italian borders there is Harry Style, probably the most famous singer in the world.
It's an exchange that works, but it's never random. Artists are chosen who have the potential to express themes close to the fashion world, such as the Maneskins who have made gender fluidity and polyamory a fundamental communicative figure ".
How has the way of making music changed since the beginning of the Italian melodic?
Maurizio Parafioriti: "The birth of the music industry in Italy coincides with the arrival of RCA in Italy in the 1950s. A US label that understood the value of melodic music and for some time was really the initiator of any popular hit.
In those years things worked in a simple way: there was a sketched song, normally we started from the melody, an orchestra conductor was hired who wrote the musical parts of all the instruments and we went to the studio to record.
The registrations were quick and, so to speak, painless. The philosophy was: good first time”.
What happens with the advent of recording studios?
Maurizio Parafioriti: “Things change, not in form but in practice. There is the possibility of individually recording the instruments at different times, and then arranging the song by choosing the best performed and functional parts of the piece.
It is a first sophistication of production, a process that I would define as more complex. There are choices of sound, vocal timbre, atmosphere, arrangement.
Professions are added as recording technology evolves. The singer arrives last and can correct himself, choose the flourishes and repeat individual parts until the right result is achieved”.
And then came digital technology…
Maurizio Parafioriti: "With any music software anyone can put together a piece in a short time.
The difference at this point is completely in the hands of the talent individual: you need to have something important to say in artistic terms.
Technological tools facilitate access to musical creativity, but obviously they are not enough”.