Aniruddh D. Patel

in Music, Language, and the Brain

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780195123753
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848034 | DOI:

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Research by Leonard Bernstein published as The Unanswered Question in 1976 was embraced since it incorporated Noam Chomsky's ideas regarding generative linguistic theory with musical meaning and structure. Although this may have received negative criticisms, this work played no small part in linguist Ray Jackendoff and musicologist Fred Lerdahl's skeptical book A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, which discusses various structural relations perceived by a listener of music. Although comparative studies regarding musical and linguistic syntax may have brought about bouts of both skepticism and enthusiasm, this chapter attempts to 1) discuss musical syntax's background, 2) explain the similarities and differences evident between linguistic and musical syntax and 3) present neuroscientific findings on the linguistic-musical syntactic relations occurring within the brain.

Keywords: Leonard Bernstein; Noam Chomsky; generative linguistic theory; musical structure; musical meaning; structural relations; musical syntax; linguistic syntax

Chapter.  23893 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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