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Winter 2018, 48.5, pages 499-515

Aristotle’s Cough: Rhetoricity, Refrain, and Rhythm in Minimalist Music 

Abstract: This article considers how rhetoricians might access rhetoricity, that which precedes and pervades meaning. The three pieces of minimalist music I examine—Steve Reich’s It’s Gonna Rain, Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room, and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach—experiment with speech, peeling back the meaning-filled dimension of language in order to expose how affect and material move people. This peeling back of meaning, my analysis suggests, is achieved through refrain and rhythm, two forceful sonic rhetorical phenomena that rhetoricians might both study and deploy.

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