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Available from 1 July 2021 at Amazon.com, A SHORT HISTORY OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC AND ITS WOMEN PROTAGONISTS, is the English-language version of the Italian publication “Breve Storia della Musica Elettronica e delle sue protagoniste” (Arcana Edizioni, Rome 2019), translated by Barbara Beatrice Lavitola and Mattia Brundo of BBLTranslation, a translation agency that also specialises in the field of music thanks to translators and lawyers with over ten years of experience, with the support of the Mariann-Steegmann Foundation and the Heroines of Sound Festival.

The author Johann Merrich, Italian experimental musician and independent researcher,

has managed, with great skill and in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, to bring order to a handful of names plucked from a broad panorama, consolidating her identity as a visionary in piecing together a new narrative with testimonies that have been overlooked by the official historiography.

Merrich’s point of view is the result of an inclusive and inquisitive approach that rejects gender, geographical and now linguistic boundaries.

The history of women in electronic music is too often separated from the male world, thus continuing on a path of exclusion that only serves to obstruct an equal, diagonal and comprehensive understanding of this topic.

From the birth of the Theremin to the first commercial software intended for the production of computer music, from Japan to Russia passing through Europe and the Americas, each chapter of this book deals with a specific moment in the history of electronic music narrated through the compositions and experiences of female composers.

We asked the author what the translation of the book into English meant to her.

The translation of this book into English is not just a mere, albeit significant, step forward in my career: I hope that this book will help to fill a gap in international research.

 One-of-a-kind, it is the first text that seeks not so much to tell stories of little-known composers, as to stimulate the generation of new habits in historical narration.

Until now, the exploits of women were confined to the margins of the history, art history and music history books. Most of the time, in all disciplines, the authors limit themselves to citing a handful of isolated and almost mythological figures – such as Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Frida Kahlo, Jane Austen or Madame Curie – as if the presence of women in history were an exceptional occurrence positioned on the edge of a landscape dominated by male heroes. This habit is the result of an outdated cultural pattern that needs to be changed.

 The book is aimed at professional musicologists on the international scene, to help fill the gaps left wide open by official historiography, and at a wider audience of contemporary electronic music fans who may already have been familiar with the sounds of some of the most famous female protagonists of the genre.

 Translation and expectations: what were you looking for when you decided to publish your work in the English language as well?

For the translation of this book I was looking for a professional who was familiar with the history of electroacoustic and electronic music, with the terminology used in the description of genres, styles and technologies. A solicitor specialising in the field of music recommended BBLTranslation to me and I decided to contact them.

 There was also a strong desire to maintain the style of my writing, informal and simple, even in English.

My way of writing belongs to a precise development strategy for multiple audiences, it is a unique style developed over the years with a well-defined goal: to be able to reach a broad and transversal target, while maintaining the right credibility.

 Writing about the “female” and dealing with gender studies is also a very delicate matter: every word used, every declination is pondered and weighed up over and over again, in search of a fair and inclusive language. Care and respect for this aspect were decisive factors in the choice of translator.

 Then we asked the translators about the challenges and difficulties encountered during the translation process.

The main difficulty of the translation was to make the text as accessible as possible without distorting its original form, making sure that the author’s voice and characteristic narrative style were always clear to the reader throughout the text. The second challenge, perhaps even more difficult, was to turn the rather picturesque language used by the Futurist authors cited in the text into English.

 What did the book awaken in you? In particular for Mattia who is also a musician?

Mattia: Initially it attracted my interest as a musician and music lover as well as a translator, but more than anything a certain pride for having contributed to expanding the catchment area of ​​a work that transcends national borders. To me, this is very important as it finally opens up the space long denied to the fundamental contribution of women in the development of electronic music and beyond.

Barbara: For me however the translation of this book is a very real and historic milestone and I feel honoured to have been able to give a voice to something so great. Our translation is a clear example of the untranslatability of certain texts with automatic translation software such as Google Translate or DeepL. The knowledge and training required of translators is of the utmost importance in order to obtain the best final result: a text that reads as fluently in English as it does in its original language.



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