British Journal of Canadian Studies

Musical quotation in Richardson/Morlock’s Perruqueries (2013): humour as a vehicle for social commentary

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2022), 34, (1), 19–42.


Quotation, one of the most common types of borrowing, has a rich history in the western art music tradition. Composers often cite other musical works as a creative tool, resulting in intertextual relationships between two pieces. The six songs of Perruqueries (2013) for soprano, baritone, and piano, with lyrics by Bill Richardson (b. 1955) and music by Jocelyn Morlock (b. 1969), focus on wigs and people’s obsession with them. Richardson either draws from real or fictional characters to write witty lyrics about wigs, while Morlock cleverly quotes well-known music of the past, recasting famous themes in humorous contexts. Drawing on Metzer’s work on quotation as a cultural agent (2003), I argue that Richardson’s lyrics and Morlock’s setting invite the listener to engage with current discourses on the role of physical appearance in our society through humour.

La musique savante occidentale est riche en citations, qui constituent l’un des types d’emprunts les plus courants. Les compositeurs et les compositrices empruntent souvent le matériau musical à d’autres œuvres en tant que technique de création, tissant ainsi des liens intertextuels entre deux pièces. Les six chansons de Perruqueries (2013) pour soprano, baryton et piano, avec des paroles de Bill Richardson (né en 1955) et une musique par Jocelyn Morlock (née en 1969), portent sur les perruques et l’obsession des gens pour celles-ci. Richardson s’inspire de personnages réels ou fictifs pour écrire des paroles pleines d’esprit, tandis que Morlock reprend ingénieusement des thèmes célèbres dans des contextes humoristiques. En m’inspirant des travaux de Metzer sur les emprunts en tant qu’agent culturel (2003), j’avance que les paroles de Richardson et la mise en musique de Morlock invitent l’auditoire à participer au discours sur le rôle de l’apparence physique dans notre société, en utilisant l’humour.

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Author details

Prevost, Roxane