Marcello Piras

Marcello Piras is an Italian independent researcher on the African influence in world music. His work has been encompassing a wide array of research fields over almost half a century. He has taught at many institutions, including Italian conservatories, the Columbia College Chicago, and the University of Michigan.

He has written a book on John Coltrane, one on jazz analysis, and many essays issued in books, reviews, and encyclopaedias, including the Amerigrove. He was translator and editor for Gunther Schuller’s Early Jazz and The Swing Era.

He conceived and founded the Centro Studi Arrigo Polillo in Siena, Italy’s first jazz archive, which he led till 1998. In 1992-2000 he founded and chaired Sisma (Italian Society for the Study of Afro-American Music), creating a quarterly bulletin and two scholarly reviews, and creating a festival exploring black-influenced notated repertoire from Renaissance to present day.

In 2001-2002 he was at the Center for Black Music Research, Chicago, and served as Executive Editor for the MUSA (Music of the United States of America) series of scholarly editions of American music. He currently lives in Puebla, Mexico, where he produced the first Spanish translation of Filippo Bonanni’s Gabinetto Armonico (1723). He is now writing a book on Scott Joplin, one on Mexican chapelmaster Gaspar Fernandes, and is preparing an Afrocentric history of music from Stone Age to present, integrating palaeontology, molecular biology, linguistics, and archaeology.

He has made presentations in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, USA, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.

At Ellington 2022, he will talk about Evidence Of Subtext In Ellington’s Music. Here is the abstract of his presentation:

“This writer has often stressed the presence of a descriptive approach in Ellington’s creations (see “Duke and Descriptive Music”, The Duke Ellington Companion. Cambridge Univerfsity Press 2015). Although the composer himself gave clues to some of his musical depictions, and evidence is steadily piling up that he did that even more often than he admitted, skepticism is still widespread. However, a major aspect of this approach has not yet come under systematic scrutiny—Duke’s use of a subtext consisting of actual words implied in musical quotations. As my presentation will show, this was the very first technique Duke resorted to. Also, its presence throughout his opus inherently voids any general objection to Ellington’s descriptivism.”