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Semantics in music

Playing with sound and meanings(s)

from No. 2024 | 1 zum Thema «Sprache und Musik»

Manuel Zolliker

This article explores how content conveyed by music can be unambiguous (or not). Like language, music is a predominantly acoustic phenomenon which is expressed by one party before being received and interpreted by another. How do we interpret the music we hear? How do musicians fill music with meaning? These questions will be explored in the context of the following topic areas: The biographical shaping of emotional associations with music; musical notation as an attempt to capture its structural content; the comparison of music /language acquisition and function; the unambiguity of music in cultural contexts; and techniques used in music for film and television to depict content which goes beyond music. Lastly, the central insights will be applied to the context of individual practices in music and pedagogy.

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