Monday, April 20, 2009

elgar's oratorios?

I'm researching Elgar's Dream of Gerontius in the context of British oratorio tradition and am reading Charles McGuire's Elgar's Oratorios.

There's this passage in which he quotes Jurij Lotman, a linguist:

[The artistic text] transmits different information to different readers in proportion to each one's comprehension; it provides the reader with a language in which each successive portion of information may be assimilated with repeated reading. It behaves as a kind of living organism which has a feedback channel to the reader and thereby instructs him.

The concept of "language"... will encompass: a) natural languages (for example, Russian, French, Estonian, Czech); b) artificial languages - the languages of science (the metalanguages of scientific descriptions), the languages of conventional signals (road signs, for example), and so on; c) secondary languages (secondary modeling systems) - communication structures built as superstructures upon a natural linguistic plane (myth and religion, for example). Art is a secondary modeling system.

And then McGuire sort of maps this kind of critical language onto musical texts through a series of translations, which are also part of Lotman's critical theory. This is all kind of bending my mind at the moment. Cool.

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