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Words and Music

Camus, Beckett, Cage, Gould


Deborah Weagel

In the twentieth century there were certain creative individuals, both authors and musicians, who became particularly involved in exploring the relationship between words and music. French author and philosopher Albert Camus (1913-1960); Irish writer, dramatist, and poet Samuel Beckett (1906-1989); American composer and writer John Cage (1912-1992); and Canadian pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982) all experimented with the interconnections between words and music in various ways. Camus incorporated musical terms and structures in some of his writing; Beckett treated words in a musical manner in some of his plays; Cage experimented with silences and rests in his work and created innovative scores for vocal solos in the Song Books; and in his radio documentaries Gould created complex contrapuntal musical textures with a mélange of words and music. Words and Music delves into some of the specific ways these powerhouses of the twentieth century moved beyond the boundaries of tradition and helped to redefine our perception and understanding of words and music in contemporary society. This text offers a unique perspective to scholars, teachers, and students of literature, music, performance, radio, and film, particularly researchers who focus on word and music studies, interdisciplinary studies, cultural studies, twentieth century literature, comparative literature, French literature, Irish literature, American literature, and contemporary and traditional classical music.