Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Behold! The Power of Music

Things move quickly on the internet, and the reactions to the President's speech last night and Bobby Jindal's response are already so ubiquitous as to be overwhelming. On perusing the morning opinion re-ax, I was particularly struck by the following commentary, which I bring up in the context of this blog because its editorializing was accomplished solely through judicious editing and the addition of music.

In essence, this is an example of a commutation test with a single iteration. As with most commutation tests, it is crude but nevertheless effective in showing us how music shapes our understanding of what it is that we see. In this case, it also demonstrates how music shapes what we hear: the music asks us to draw comparisons between Jindal's voice and Fred Rogers', and we begin to attend consciously to just those aspects of Jindal's vocal performance—especially his deliberate pacing, sing-songy cadence and relatively simple syntax—that would make it suitable to Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.

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