The Sense of Music: Semiotic Essays

The Sense of Music: Semiotic Essays

The Sense of Music: Semiotic Essays

The Sense of Music: Semiotic Essays


"This book is an extremely significant contribution to the field. It moves considerably beyond much that has been written in music semiotics and is strikingly original."--Robert S. Hatten, author of "Musical Meanings in Beethoven: Markedness, Correlation, and Interpretation"


This book is called The Sense of Music, and let us hope that it makes sense. For it has had a complex genesis. Its first title was The Wordless Song; afterwards it was called Theorizing Music. the present title (which it shares with a fine monograph by Victor Zuckerkandl) was kindly suggested by Mario Stern of the National School of Music, México. in its various stages of development, the book was used by eminent colleagues in different international universities, some of whom will know it by its earlier titles.

Its respective parts, as well as the finished whole, have been read by various friends, who gave generous help in revising and improving the text. I must particularly mention David Lidov, who not only read the manuscript but reviewed it for the journal Integral long before it was published; Robert Hatten, whose attentive study of the whole text and detailed suggestions have improved the work infinitely; Michael Spitzer, who read part of the manuscript and offered invaluable comments; Susana González Aktories, who had sufficient confidence in the unpublished manuscript to devote a term to its study with her graduate semiotics seminar in México D.F.; Conrad Wilson, who first gave me the idea that the work might appeal to a larger educated audience, rather than just musicologists; Edith Zack, who read the whole work and indeed cited it liberally, demonstrating how these ideas and methods could be applied to other repertoires.

I must resist mentioning by name all those distinguished persons whose help, stimulation, and friendship have been so important. I have received copies of articles that were hard to obtain, been advised on points of theory and historical scholarship by those most qualified in the world to give such advice, been listened to with much indulgence by countless conference audiences, been generously invited to lecture and participate in many universities. I could never have formulated my ideas without the sympathetic interest of all these people; perhaps it's a pity I didn't listen more attentively to their wise advice.

In particular, the successive International Congresses on Musical Signification (ICMS) have been an ideal forum, not only for my own ideas but for many theorists with much better ideas than mine; Eero Tarasti has to be thanked for being the inspirer of this movement. He has also organized meetings of the Doctoral and Postdoctoral Seminar in Helsinki, which I have several times had the pleasure of co-directing.

As the work on this book progressed, I became more aware that it might interest scholars—and indeed readers—in other fields: in literary criticism, philosophy, and cultural history. It is addressed, therefore, to an audience . . .

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