Lydia Goehr (Columbia): a Lecture in the Philosophy of Music

A lecture in the philosophy of music by Lydia Goehr of Columbia University, this Tuesday evening, February 12, 6:00 p.m.  The lecture is sponsored by MSU Philosophy-Religion as well as the Cali School of Music; the talk will be held in the Cali School Leshowitz Recital Hall.

Location: Cali School of Music, Leshowitz Recital Hall.

Professor Goehr's description of her talk, "Two Concepts of Improvisation": "My talk is about social and aesthetic prejudice. It draws on an ancient background of contest and judgment to articulate a concept of improvisation impromptu. I distinguish this concept from the more familiar concept of improvisation extempore. Improvisation impromptu is a concept of wit and fit: it treads the fine line between hubris and humility, or doing exactly the right and exactly the wrong thing, “on the spot,” in life’s many challenging situations. I illustrate its tense application through a history of (philosophical) thought and through several examples of competitive musical situations from diverse traditions, from the recent execution of amateur Karaoke singers in the Philippines to the so-called “cutting contests” of jazz. The lessons of these examples are then brought together in a final, extended example, drawn from a 1940 film of the Harlem Renaissance, in which an old violinist, a father, must contend with a broken arm and a young violinist, his son, with broken strings."