On the Grammar of Music (Christian Kaernbach )

Subject: On the Grammar of Music
From:    Christian Kaernbach  <chris(at)PSYCHOLOGIE.UNI-LEIPZIG.DE>
Date:    Sun, 29 Apr 2001 07:09:43 +0200

The direct comparison of music and language would work out better if comparing music not to technical texts but to poems. The difference is the purpose: Poems and music should entertain (admittedly a very short definition of the "purpose" of art, add: edify, ... at your pleasure), while technical texts should convey information, e.g., on how to repair my car. In poems all sort of rule violations are found, even mixing of languages (I think of German-Latin in "In dulco jubilo, nun singet und seid froh", oh, I have had three languages in this sentence...); but rule violations are only perceived as such if there are rules. Sure, this goes down to dada, and maybe Martin Brown would then say music has the grammar of dada. Others might reply that this could hold for free jazz, ... and the debate would enter the realm of personal tastes. - Christian Kaernbach

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