Leonard Hastings Schoff Memorial Lecture Series


Fred Lerdahl


Monday, 11.12.18, 8pm
I: The Sounds of Poetry Viewed as Music

Monday, 11.19.18, 8pm
II: Musical Syntax, Linguistic Syntax, and the Origins of Music

Monday, 11.26.18, 8pm
III: Tonal Space, Text Setting, and Musical Narrative

All lectures are held in Faculty House, 64 Morningside Drive | Lectures are free and open to the public

Lecture I: The Sounds of Poetry Viewed as Music analyzes the sound structure of lines by Robert Frost and others to reveal in some detail shared prosodic features of music and language.

Lecture II: Musical Syntax, Linguistic Syntax, and the Origins of Music takes a larger view of shared and unshared features between the two capacities, using a Beatles song as illustration. These reflections point toward provisional conclusions about the origins of music.

Lecture III: Tonal Space, Text Setting, and Musical Narrative discusses features that belong to music but not to language, using a Schubert song as illustration. It then turns to the song’s text setting and narrative structure to uncover further connections between music and language.

Music/Poetic Figure of Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” courtesy of Fred Lerdahl

Fred Lerdahl is Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition, Director of the Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music, and Secretary of the Alice M. Ditson Fund, which supports emerging American composers. He directed Columbia’s composition program for two decades. His career has taken two parallel paths, as a composer and as a music theorist with an emphasis in music cognition. His music has been commissioned and performed by major chamber ensembles and orchestras in the United States and around the world, and he has been resident composer at leading institutions and festivals. Three of his works—Time after Time for chamber ensemble, the Third String Quartet, and Arches for cello and chamber orchestra—were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in music. His music is published by Schott Music Corporation and has been widely recorded for various labels, including Bridge Records, which is producing an ongoing series devoted to his music. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has written three books: A Generative Theory of Tonal Music (with linguist Ray Jackendoff), a foundational document in the cognitive science of music that is based in part on methodologies from generative linguistics; the award-winning Tonal Pitch Space, which deepens and extends the earlier research through theoretical modeling of empirical data on perceived tonal relations; and Composition and Cognition (in press), which discusses how research in the cognitive science of music bears on organizational and aesthetic issues in contemporary music.


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