Music vs Words : Exploring the Problematic State of Semantic Meaning in Music

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för musikvetenskap

Author: Berk Sirman; [2009]

Keywords: music; meaning; semantic;


Musical language does not carry obvious semantic meaning. The question of whether music has semantic meaning, or how it does, has been an age old question in musicology. This paper is a case study of musical analyses from Lawrence Kramer and Constantin Floros, and it discusses how they interpret semantic meaning into the Beethoven and Mahler pieces they analyze. Their analyses are then discussed against Nicholas Cook's model of musical meaning, and the formalist approach of Leonard B. Meyer. Even though these offer some insight to the difficulties faced in Kramer's and Floros' methods, some major problems with associating semantic meaning into music remain.

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