Leonard Hastings Schoff Memorial Lecture Series

2018

Fred Lerdahl

REFLECTIONS ON MUSIC AND LANGUAGE

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.


PAST LECTURES

2017
Edward Mendelson
Medicine, Empire, Love: The Inner Life of  Mrs. Dalloway

2016
Robert G. O’Meally
“Fancy Sticks”: The Action-Art of Toni Morrison, Romare Bearden, and Jazz

2015
Robert E. Remez
The Good Listener: Behavioral Neuroscience Considers the Perception of Speech

2014
Annette Insdorf
Coherence and Resonance: How To Read Film Openings

2013
Paige West
Accumulation by Dispossession?: Loss, Change, and the Future of the Melanesian Pacific

2012
Herbert Terrace

Why Two Minds are Better than One: The Evolution of Words

2011
Robert L. Belknap
Plot

2010
Jean Howard
Staging History; Imagining the Nation

2009
Philip Kitcher

Deaths in Venice:
The Case(s) of Gustav (von) Aschenbach

2007
Douglas Chalmers

Representative Government Without Representatives: Seven Reasons to Think Beyond Electing Executives and Lawmakers

2006
Boris Gasparov

The Early Romantic Roots of Theoretical Linguistics: Friedrich Shchlegel, Novalis, and Ferdinand De Saussure on Sign and Meaning

2005
Robert W. Hanning

Serious Play: Crises of Desire and Authority in the Poetry of Ovid, Chaucer, and Ariosto

2004
Lesley A. Sharp

Bodies, Commodities, Biotechnologies

2003
George Rupp

Globilization Challenged: Conviction, Conflict, Community

2002
David Rosand
The Invention of Painting in America

2001
Partha Chatterjee

The Politics of the Governed

2000
Lisa Anderson

The Scholar and the Practitioner: Perspectives
on Social Science and Public Policy

1999
Robert Pollack

The Faith of Biology and the Biology of Faith

1998
Carol Gluck
Past Obsessions: War and Memory in the Twentieth Century

1997
Ira Katznelson

Political Knowledge After the Holocaust, Totalitarianism, and Total War

1996
Kenneth T. Jackson
Gentleman’s Agreement: Political Balkanization and Social Inequality in America

1995
Saskia Sassen

Losing Control? Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization

1994
Charles E. Larmore
The Romantic Legacy

1993
David N. Cannadine

The Rise and Fall of Class in Britain, 1700–2000