University of Cambridge > > Faculty of Music Colloquia > To the Ear a Great Compassion: Listening, Counting and Number

To the Ear a Great Compassion: Listening, Counting and Number

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Well into the nineteenth century, ‘numbers’ referred to the metrical or melodious structures of music or writing. In 1589, George Puttenham employed the term ‘numerosity’ to characterise ‘a certain flowing utterance by slipper words and syllables which… breedeth to the ear a great compassion’. This talk will reflect on the embodied mathematics of listening, especially to poetry and music. Number therefore represents the possibility of a world of absolute indifference. The kind of unconscious counting that is at work in music, that is the work of music, is the effort to capture and neutralise this indifference. But this is in the service of a life that must thereby depend upon and pass through that deathly

This talk is part of the Faculty of Music Colloquia series.

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