A palindrome is a word, number, or phrase that reads the same backward as it does forward. Palindromes can be fun, or absurd, the product of children’s English lessons: Taco cat. Or they can be remarkably poetic: Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era? Palindromes can also be didactic, and historically grounded: A man, a plan, a canal: Panama. James Joyce rendered a knock on the door as the palindromic tattarrattat.

Music can be palindromic,...

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