A moment in Western culture: World music, postmodernism, and syllable structure

B. Elan Dresher


Originally published in Glot International 7, 1/2, January/February 2003.

It is a common perception that artistic and scientific works tend to fall into a sequence. Somebody who knows Renaissance music, for example, can accurately guess the date and provenance of an unfamiliar work simply by attending  to its characteristics, like a dialectologist identifying a dialect using known isoglosses. Of course, some works are relatively conservative (‘‘1550? As late as that? I would have guessed 1520.’’) and others are ‘‘progressive’’ for their time, meaning they have certain features that do not become prevalent until a few years later.

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