Music ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-10-2019


Musical semiotics is the study of the various ways in which musical structures become meaningful. This thesis is an attempt to create a logical, systematized, transformational theory of musical semiotics that can elucidate the various ways in which music conveys meaning. While the semiotic exploration of music is by no means novel, this thesis presents a unique, highly rigorous, and truly theoretical approach to musical semiotics that differs significantly from previous theories. By combining all aspects of the semiotic theory of Charles Sanders Peirce with the metaphor theories of George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, and Zoltan Kovecses, a theoretical apparatus is constructed that is capable of describing a wide variety of musical experiences within a wide variety of contexts. The result is new theory of musical semiosis, one that details the formation of musical meaning to a degree of detail not previously attempted

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Music

First Committee Member (Chair)

Richard Hermann

Second Committee Member

David Bashwiner

Third Committee Member

Michael Klein




music, theory, semiotics, semiosis, metaphor, analysis

Document Type