Event Title

Music as Sign: How does Music Mean?

Start Date

8-11-2017 1:30 PM

End Date

8-11-2017 5:30 PM

Description

The purpose of this presentation for the 2017 Shared Knowledge Conference will be to summarize semiosis as described by Charles Sanders Peirce (Peircean Semiotics) and apply its process of signification to the sign-vehicles, objects, and interpretants of music. How music comes to “mean” is a question that has been a central feature of musical praxis, poesis, and teoria for centuries, if not millenia. The relatively new theory of pragmatist semiosis, constructed around the turn of the 20th century by Peirce, offers new, more detailed tools for examining the process of how music is able to signify. Few listeners (if any) would doubt the existence of meaning in music. Both attached to and, as this presentation will argue, inseparable from the complex process of hearing music is the equally complex process of interpreting music. The interpretation of music comes in many forms: music might be described qualitatively, quantitatively, narratively, metaphorically, etc. This presentation will attempt to describe how music moves from a “pure” conception of its simply qualitative features (called “Firstness” or “Quale”) to how music comes to actually embody those features (called “Secondness” or “Relate/Correlate”) to an interpretation of how its features relate to concepts in a convention- or law-governed system (called “Thirdness” or “Sign-vehicle/Object/Interpretant”). The first part of this presentation will describe the semiotic process as conceived by C.S. Peirce. The second part will describe how the signs of music manifest in Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness using aspects of a theory of musical signs as presented by renowned semiotician Eero Tarasti. The third part will use a more detailed theory described by the musical semiotician Juha Ojala on how music, at the stage of Thirdness, moves through the semiotic process to become a sign that is capable of signifying.

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Nov 8th, 1:30 PM Nov 8th, 5:30 PM

Music as Sign: How does Music Mean?

The purpose of this presentation for the 2017 Shared Knowledge Conference will be to summarize semiosis as described by Charles Sanders Peirce (Peircean Semiotics) and apply its process of signification to the sign-vehicles, objects, and interpretants of music. How music comes to “mean” is a question that has been a central feature of musical praxis, poesis, and teoria for centuries, if not millenia. The relatively new theory of pragmatist semiosis, constructed around the turn of the 20th century by Peirce, offers new, more detailed tools for examining the process of how music is able to signify. Few listeners (if any) would doubt the existence of meaning in music. Both attached to and, as this presentation will argue, inseparable from the complex process of hearing music is the equally complex process of interpreting music. The interpretation of music comes in many forms: music might be described qualitatively, quantitatively, narratively, metaphorically, etc. This presentation will attempt to describe how music moves from a “pure” conception of its simply qualitative features (called “Firstness” or “Quale”) to how music comes to actually embody those features (called “Secondness” or “Relate/Correlate”) to an interpretation of how its features relate to concepts in a convention- or law-governed system (called “Thirdness” or “Sign-vehicle/Object/Interpretant”). The first part of this presentation will describe the semiotic process as conceived by C.S. Peirce. The second part will describe how the signs of music manifest in Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness using aspects of a theory of musical signs as presented by renowned semiotician Eero Tarasti. The third part will use a more detailed theory described by the musical semiotician Juha Ojala on how music, at the stage of Thirdness, moves through the semiotic process to become a sign that is capable of signifying.