Events in Modern Languages & Cultures
The String, the Swing and the Language Thing: Musical Metaphor and Musical Reference in Eighteenth-Century Writing
Dr Jo Tudor, former lecturer in the German Dept, Durham University will be giving a paper entitled 'The String, the Swing and the Language Thing: Musical Metaphor and Musical Reference in Eighteenth-Century Writing'on 10 October 2007.
For centuries, writers have drawn on music to explore other phenomena, or have taken it as theme and scenario for this purpose. Such analogies depend less on what music is than on what a given culture perceives it to be. The values attached to aspects of music (e.g. harmony, rhythm, melody, instrumentation) change as the culture changes; and this historical aspect of metaphor is often underestimated. This paper is mainly concerned with the values attached in 18th-c. writing (German, French) to the two-way analogy between music and language. A very wide range of associations emerges, both positive and negative, some inherited, some developed in new ways. Goethe in particular drew on musical analogy from several cultures, in efforts to present and to overcome the limitations of language. Critical reception of his musical metaphor has often been problematic, and continues to be so for 20th/ 21st-c writers who have used it.
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