Music History and Theory Forum: “Ghost in the Machine: Musical Grammar and Musical Agency” (Lawrence M. Zbikowski)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
3:30 PM – 4:45 PM


Free Event

Dr. Lawrence M. Zbikowski (Professor of Music Theory, University of Chicago) will present a talk entitled, “Ghost in the Machine: Musical Grammar and Musical Agency”, as part of Music History and Theory Forum on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 from 3:30-4:45 pm in Music Room 1145 on the UCSB campus. Abstract: One of the challenges of thinking about musical grammar is that much of our thought is shaped by linguistic grammar. This means that we tend to describe music in terms of objects and relations—things that language is very good at capturing—rather than the dynamic processes that I believe are central to musical utterances. In this paper I explore tensions between these ways of thinking about music through a consideration of recent accounts of musical agency. These accounts have both enlivened and complicated music analysis through the discovery of the various agents that can be found behind and within musical utterances. I place these accounts in counterpoint with the approach I take to musical grammar (which I see as organized around sonic analogs for dynamic processes), and suggest that the search for musical agency is at heart a search for the force that animates musical expression. My exploration of these topics will be illustrated by examples drawn from chamber music of the late eighteenth century, a repertoire that has been important to my thinking about musical grammar as well as to recent accounts of musical agency.
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