[Smt-talk] Classical Form and Recursion (Muokkaajana Olli Väisälä)

Olli Väisälä ovaisala at siba.fi
Mon Apr 6 00:58:27 PDT 2009

>  Almost everyone has difficulty with even small levels of center 
> embedding, as in "people dogs cats like hate suck."

In music, by contrast, "almost no one" would have difficulties with an 
analogous construction with embedded applied dominants:

I(3^,w.n.) / V (2^, q.n.) II# (2^, e.n.) VI# (#1^, e.n.) II# (2^, q.n.) 
V (2^, q.n.) / I(1^, w.n.)

(Soprano tones and time values given in parentheses. Sorry for the 
clumsy notation, but I couldn't figure out a better one if examples 
with ordinary notation cannot be attached.)

This is just one more illustration that music has access to factors, 
such as meter and rhythm here, that can support the perception of 
recursive constructions in a way foreign to language. Insofar as such 
basic differences between music and language are not allowed for, I 
find this discussion – with its references to evolution biology and 
Nobel prizes – to be on rather weak grounds.

Olli Väisälä
Sibelius Academy
ovaisala at siba.fi

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