Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Word of the Day: canon

Sentence: “The work of composer/improvisor/percussionist Lukas Ligeti may appear confusing to some observers, but the disparate activities that populate Ligeti’s oeuvre have an intriguing way of complementing each other. Is he a composer or improviser? Does he belong to the canon of classical music, or is he part of a lineage of American experimentalists? Is he a new-music composer, an avant-garde jazz drummer, or perhaps even an African pop musician? In a way, he is all of the above, often at the same time. And one of these interests is: what will happen to a musical idea if it is introduced into different stylistic areas, treated by musicians of different backgrounds?” - James Ilgenfritz III, liner notes, “Pattern Time” CD

American Heritage Dictionary (12 definitions)
An ecclesiastical law or code of laws established by a church council.
A secular law, rule, or code of law.
An established principle: the canons of polite society.
A basis for judgment; a standard or criterion.
The books of the Bible officially accepted as Holy Scripture.
A group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a field: "the durable canon of American short fiction” ( William Styron).
The works of a writer that have been accepted as authentic: the entire Shakespeare canon.
The part of the Mass beginning after the Preface and Sanctus and ending just before the Lord's Prayer.
The calendar of saints accepted by the Roman Catholic Church.
Music A composition or passage in which a melody is imitated by one or more voices at fixed intervals of pitch and time.
A member of a chapter of priests serving in a cathedral or collegiate church.
A member of certain religious communities living under a common rule and bound by vows.

These problems become more obvious when the focus of the anthology touches on the idea of canon in some way—the most brain-exploding SF of all time, for example, or the early stories of iconic writers.
— Anthologies: A Readers Point of View

"Academics are the only people who talk about the 'canon' " - Grossman She thinks the "canon" will vary by country and culture. — PEN REPORTS: DAY TWO
Scripture is a collection of books written in most cases by people who did not know each other; what each meant severally is not necessarily the same, and in many cases probably is not the same, as what their statements mean when interpreted in light of the rest of the canon, which is in turn a lot closer to what the Holy Spirit intended to convey. — Prof. Carson vs. the Protestants on the 'plain meaning of Scripture'

▸a generally accepted rule more...
▸a list of writers, musicians, etc. whose work is generally accepted or studied more...
▸all the writing, music, etc. that is generally accepted as the work of one writer, musician, etc. more...
▸a Christian priest who works in a cathedral more...
▸a type of music in which different instruments or voices start the same series of notes, one after another more...

canon - In art, the body of unquestionably important artists (DWMs — dead white males) and works. Until recently the canon was seldom challenged, and changed at a sluggish pace. Now it's being relentlessly challenged by art historians and critics recovering forgotten and ignored artists (especially by women, non-whites, and outsiders) both within and outside the Western world. The scope of what is considered art has been widening as new fields, including photography, performance art, video, crafts, and design, are added to what amounts to an ever-increasing canon. Postmodernism, however, has put in question the very idea of an irreducible list of masters and masterpieces. So, when referring to the canon today, one should specify what sort of canon one means.


A musical form in which a tune is imitated by individual parts at regular intervals; known as a round when each part is continuously repeated. In simple examples, such as "London Bridge is Falling Down," the successive voices enter at a same pitch and at the same speed. In more elaborate examples, such as the canons in J.S. Bach's keyboard work known as the Goldberg Variation, the voices may enter at different pitches and present the tune at different speeds or even backwards or upside down.

canon (1) "church law," O.E., from L.L. canon, in classical L., "measuring line, rule," from Gk. kanon "any straight rod or bar; rule; standard of excellence," perhaps from kanna "reed" (see cane). Taken in ecclesiastical sense for "decree of the Church," and as such passed through L.L. to O.E. General sense of "standard of judging" is from c.1600.

canon (2) "clergyman," c.1200, from Anglo-Fr. canun, from O.N.Fr. canonie (Fr. chanoine), from L.L. canonicus "clergyman living under a rule," from L. canonicus (adj.) "according to rule" (in ecclesiastical use, "pertaining to the canon"), from Gk. kanonikos, from kanon (see canon (1)).

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