Sunday 3 February 2008

Musical information - context again

Information/meaning doesn't only come from words?

I was listening to 'Private Passions' on Radio 3 at lunchtime today, and Martin Rowson, The Guardian's political cartoonist, was laying in to Bob Dylan, saying how useless he is as a poet. I like Dylan, though you can't argue that if you read the words as poetry disconnected from the music and the associations of the music, the zeitgeist, the context, if you read it like that, then it's not up there with the all-time great poetry. But, it wasn't written like that, it could not be written like that. The words, the music and the context are all of a piece.

This also links into the issue of information and meaning conveyed by music. In the discussions at an internal seminar exploring 'The Nature of Information' that we had at the OU last October, one of the contributors commented that we were only addressing information in words - written or spoken - and queried whether we should also consider our other senses, such as smell. This also links to elements in 'What good are the arts' by John Carey. But this is for another day.

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