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Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 4 months ago

Deriving from the Greek tropos, "to turn," a trope is a schema or script for turning attention. Tropes are particular configurations of language, and as these figures repeat, they become recognizable heuristics for amplifying and compressing one rhetorical choice over all other probabilities. When musicians add to or subtract notes from a particular melisma or otherwise draw attention to the development of a particular tone, they're troping, right there. Used as a verb again: when you "trope" something, you tune that something to a pattern by entraining it to that particular and available pattern. Troping, turning, tuning, these are the very same. They at once require and install a second order of attention. Rhetoric is another name for this \"attention to attention.\"


Since the telegraph, electronic media emerge as increasingly configurable (programmable, rhythmizable) surfaces and conditions for inscription, response, and movement, and, as Marshall McLuhan recognized long ago , once "sequence yields to the simultaneous, one is in the world of structure and configuration" (//Understanding Media// 28). Configuring arguments in a networked medium requires some listening, some facility with detachment, and lots of practice. Just as musicians rehearse the gestures of melodic development and rhythmic entrainment, we, as composers in far-from-equalibrium, rich, synaesthetic media must become search engines for the tropes that help us make rhetorical choices as we narrate sequences and listen for available sequences, turn narrative sequences into definitions, and so much more.

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