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Words and Music: Listening to Song

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London

Event date: 24th February 2010

Organized By Professor Terence Cave (St. John’s College, Oxford)

Abstract:
The complex relations between music and language have been explored by poets, musicians, musicologists, literary critics and historians, psychologists, neuroscientists and many others across the disciplines. Thinking about the interaction betwen words and music in vocal music, and about the ways in which their joint effect is perceived by listeners and performers, may help us better to understand the differences and similarities, the compatibilities and incompatibilities, of these two fundamental forms of human expression and communication.

The two half-day sessions of the seminar “Words and Music” will set up a dialogue between speakers specialising in different aspects of this question, including a musicologist, an audio scientist, a practising poet, a composer, and literary specialists.

The discussions in both sessions will thus be cross-disciplinary. The issues they will explore bear on fundamental questions such as interpretation, aesthetic form and the way it is experienced, cognitive processes and strategies, and the nature of communication. We hope that our audience will represent a wide range of disciplines, including literary studies, musicology, cultural studies, philosophy, psychology, cognitive science and related subjects, and that it will make an important contribution to our discussions. In order to achieve this aim, the numbers of those attending will be limited and advance registration will be required.

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First session: Wednesday 24 February


Opening remarks (Ahuvia Kahane) and Introductory presentation (Terence Cave)

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Daniel Leech-Wilkinson (Musicology, King’s College London)
The construction of meaning from song performances: resemblance and style

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Jane Ginsborg (Psychology, Royal Northern College of Music)
Hearing, understanding and remembering the words and melodies of songs

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accompanying images:

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David Howard (Audio Laboratory, University of York)  
Hearing words from a singer and staying in tune as a singing group

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Responses: Elaine McGirr (English, RHUL) m , Andrew Bowie (Philosophy and German, RHUL)

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General discussion, with panel of speaker and respondents

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<<Session Two>>

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