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The Musico-Linguistics Meme: Recursion and American Academic Inquiry into Musical Meaning since Bernstein in Boston

The Musico-Linguistics Meme: Recursion and American Academic Inquiry into Musical Meaning since Bernstein in Boston

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Leonard Bernstein's Norton Lecture Series of 1973 have played an critical role in helping to define a particular landscape of thought which might be best described by Bernstein’s own (admittedly nonacademic) term, "musico-linguistics".1 While not a formal discipline, the term characterizes and encompasses the body of thought upon which he speculates in six multi-hour lectures at Harvard. It is important to note from the outset that my research goals were initially designed to document the ways in which a Bernstein’s thesis for a universal musical grammar represented an idiosyncratic musical worldview: fitting in his time but no longer operative in light of more recent discoveries. However, a careful reading of the literature tells a different story. The lectures themselves do not represent rigorous scholarship; however, due to their enormous cultural influence via nationwide broadcast,2 I argue that Bernstein’s perspective as portrayed in The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard went on nonetheless to become a meme that has served to inspire, direct and at times outright define a course of scholarship for many researchers across a diverse range of disciplines. This work continues to yield fruitful discoveries in areas such as the study of recursion.

More content at www.jordanrsmith.com
Leonard Bernstein's Norton Lecture Series of 1973 have played an critical role in helping to define a particular landscape of thought which might be best described by Bernstein’s own (admittedly nonacademic) term, "musico-linguistics".1 While not a formal discipline, the term characterizes and encompasses the body of thought upon which he speculates in six multi-hour lectures at Harvard. It is important to note from the outset that my research goals were initially designed to document the ways in which a Bernstein’s thesis for a universal musical grammar represented an idiosyncratic musical worldview: fitting in his time but no longer operative in light of more recent discoveries. However, a careful reading of the literature tells a different story. The lectures themselves do not represent rigorous scholarship; however, due to their enormous cultural influence via nationwide broadcast,2 I argue that Bernstein’s perspective as portrayed in The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard went on nonetheless to become a meme that has served to inspire, direct and at times outright define a course of scholarship for many researchers across a diverse range of disciplines. This work continues to yield fruitful discoveries in areas such as the study of recursion.

More content at www.jordanrsmith.com

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Jordan Randall Smith on Jan 27, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial
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09/20/2013

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Leonard Bernstein's Norton Lecture Series of 1973 have played an critical role in helping to define a particular landscape of thought which might be best described by Bernstein’s own (admittedly nonacademic) term, "musico-linguistics".1 While not a formal discipline, the term characterizes and encompasses the body of thought upon which he speculates in six multi-hour lectures at Harvard. It is imp
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