Fred Lerdahl |The Sounds of Poetry Viewed as Music

Fred Lerdahl | The Sounds of Poetry Viewed as Music
March 5, 2011, 4:30–5:30 pm
MIT Kresge Little Theater

Fred Lerdahl, composer, theorist and Columbia University professor, led a discussion about the evolution of speech from song and played a recording of his new composition, The First Voices, for eight percussionists and three singers. Based on a text by the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, this brilliant piece is an homage to Lerdahl’s experience as a child listening to West African drumming and to Rousseau’s statement that “to speak and to sing were formerly one.”




Fred Lerdahl

Fred Lerdahl, Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columbia University
Discussion Leader, The Sounds of Poetry Viewed as Music
Composer for Language of Music Concert
Composer Fred Lerdahl is Fritz Reiner Professor of Music at Columbia University. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in music. Among his other honors are the Koussevitzky Composition Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Classical Recording Foundation’s Composer of the Year Award. Commissions have come from numerous organizations, including the Spoleto Festival, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Library of Congress. His compositions have been performed by orchestras and chamber groups in this country and abroad, including the Lontano Ensemble, the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players and the Juilliard Quartet. He has been in residence at the Marlboro Music Festival, IRCAM, the Wellesley Composers Conference, the American Academy in Rome, the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, the Yellow Barn Music Festival, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Lerdahl is also prominent as a music theorist. He has written two books, A Generative Theory of Tonal Music (with linguist Ray Jackendoff) and Tonal Pitch Space, both of which model musical listening from the perspective of cognitive science.