Fall 2016 Speaker Series Begins 10/5

Music and Poetry’s Great Leap Forward? or Searching for the Easter Egg

Samuel Jay Keyser, MIT

Wednesday, October 5th, 5:45pm, Stony Brook University, SBS S-209

This talk explores the notion of “private codes” in music and poetry, and what happened to them at the turn of the 20th-century. It focuses on musical compositions and poems because these art forms rely on two reasonably well understood systems of rules. These rules formed the basis of a natural aesthetic shared by artist and audience in the way that the rules of one’s natural language are shared. At the turn of the 20th century poets and composers (and painters) abandoned the shared rule component and turned instead to “private codes.“ As a result, appreciation of these art forms now came, if at all, after specialized study of the sort demanded by calculus or computer programming. This is, in part, why the 20th century has seen the extraordinary rise of exegesis in the arts as an independent field of study.

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