Friday, February 21, 2014

Carl Pandolfi scores the title of Wittgenstein's "Tractatus"

Poetry Scores recently announced that we are going to translate Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) by Ludwig Wittgenstein into other media, starting with music.

We have songwriters scoring Wittgenstein's great philosophical prose poem, in the original English translation that Wittgenstein went over personally with the person who did most of the work on it, F. P. Ramsey. The first English translation was commissioned, edited and published by C. K. Ogden, who took sole credit for the translation; but we are giving Wittgenstein, Ramsey and Ogden a shared lyrical credit.

St. Louis composer Carl Pandolfi has finished the first piece of our poetry score, which sets to music the very first part of the poem, and that is the title, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.


Free mp3

"Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus"
(Wittgenstein, Ogden, Ramsey, Moore, Pandolfi)
Carl Pandolfi

Produced, composed, recorded and performed by Carl Pandolfi in St. Louis, Missouri.
Carl Pandolfi sings all vocals and plays Casio auto drumbeat (from a 1990s-era keyboard), electric guitars, electric bass, synthesizer, snare drum and piano.

Executive producer: Chris King for Poetry Scores

Music (c) 2014 Carl Pandolfi


Carl Pandolfi described his creative process:

I was playing around with the title words using a cheap songwriting toy that Mike Burgett had that "sings" your spoken words for you. One of the funky rhythmic responses stuck in my head and came out as this dance track after I decided to complete it in the style of a quasi-Gregorian chordal chant (organum, loosely).


The title of Wittgenstein's book, Latin for "Treatise on Logic and Philosophy," was suggested by the English philosopher G. E. Moore (who, with Bertrand Russell, was an early and primary influence on Wittgenstein's thought). We think Moore deserves a share of the credit for the title song as well, since he came up with the title.

Moore was echoing Spinoza's title Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, but we figured we'd leave Spinoza off the songwriting team. Wittgenstein himself preferred his original German title, Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung.

Moore's title for Wittgenstein's poem was scored by St. Louis composer Carl Pandolfi, a longtime contributor to Poetry Scores, among countless other creative projects and bands.

Carl Pandolfi
We understand that Wittgenstein's books are shelved in the philosophy section and taught in philosophy departments, but they certainly can be enjoyed (and scored) as poetry. Wittgenstein himself wrote, "I think I summed up my attitude to philosophy when I said philosophy ought really to be written as a poetic composition" (from his personal notebooks, published in Culture and Value, translated by Peter Winch).

The Ogden/Ramsey translation of the Tractatus is in the public domain. The music is (c) 2014 by Carl Pandolfi. Free sharing of this mp3 is welcome, but please consult Poetry Scores for production-quality audio and composer permission before making any commercial use. Thanks!


The Department of Philosophy at the University of Missouri - St. Louis has thoughtfully organized a Talk about Wittgenstein's Tractatus 5:30-8 pm Tuesday, February 25 in Clark Hall Room 411. Professors Waldemar Rohloff and Rebecca Schuman invite anyone to attend and encourage you to prepare by reading the Preface and Propositions 6.4-7 of the Tractatus.

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