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

Event Date: 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Event Date Details: 

Event Location: 

  • Music Room 1145 (UCSB)

Event Price: 

Free and open to the public

Event Contact: 

Adriane Hill
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
(805) 893-3230
Lawrence M. Zbikowski
Dr. Lawrence M. Zbikowski 
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. 
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.
About Dr. Lawrence M. Zbikowski
Lawrence M. Zbikowski is Professor of Music in the Department and of the Humanities in the College at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on the application of recent work in cognitive science to various problems confronted by music scholars, including the nature of musical grammar, text-music relations, the relationship between music and movement, and the structure of theories of music. He is the author of Conceptualizing Music: Cognitive Structure, Theory, and Analysis (OUP 2002) and Foundations of Musical Grammar (OUP 2017). He has recently contributed chapters to Music-Dance: Sound and Motion in Contemporary Discourse, The Routledge Companion to Music Cognition, The Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory, Sémiotic de la musique / Music and Meaning, and Music in Time, and has published articles and reviews in Musicæ Scientiæ, Music Theory Spectrum, Music Analysis, Ethnomusicology, the Dutch Journal of Music Theory, and the Journal of Musicological Research. During 2010–11 he held a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and was also Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at McGill University.
Lawrence M. Zbikowski