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Foundations of Musical Grammar$
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Lawrence M. Zbikowski

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190653637

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190653637.001.0001

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Music and Gesture

Music and Gesture

(p.95) Chapter Four Music and Gesture
Foundations of Musical Grammar

Lawrence M. Zbikowski

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the relationship between music and physical gesture, drawing on recent research on the spontaneous gestures that accompany speech. Such gestures appear to be motivated by thought processes that are independent from speech and that in many cases offer analogs for dynamic processes. The chapter outlines the infrastructure for human communication that supports language and gesture as well as music. This outline provides a framework for exploring how music and gesture are similar and for how they are different. These comparisons are made through analyses of the movements Fred Astaire makes while accompanying himself at the piano in the 1936 film Swing Time and those Charlie Chaplin makes to Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No. 5 in the 1941 film The Great Dictator. These analyses further explicate the role of syntactic processes and syntactic layers in musical grammar and introduce referential frameworks, which serve as perceptual anchors for syntactic processes.

Keywords:   Astaire, Brahms, Chaplin, diatonic scales, gesture, human communication, meter, music, rhythm, syntax

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