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Modeling Ethnomusicology$
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Timothy Rice

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190616885

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190616885.001.0001

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Reflections on Music and Meaning

Reflections on Music and Meaning

Metaphor, Signification, and Control in the Bulgarian Case

(p.87) 3 Reflections on Music and Meaning
Modeling Ethnomusicology

Timothy Rice

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the question of whether and how music references ideas and emotions and the way those references differ from the referential properties of language. In dialogue with the work of Martin Clayton, it distinguishes between significance (i.e. musical meaning in a broad sense) and signification (i.e. musical meaning in a narrow sense). As for significance, the chapter argues that music’s significance is best expressed in metaphors connecting music to other domains, as in music is an art, a social behavior, a text, or a commodity. When it comes to signification, the chapter uses the semiotic theories of Charles S. Peirce as outlined for music by Thomas Turino. Finally, the chapter concludes with a consideration, inspired by the ideas of Michel Foucault, of the way the signification of music can be controlled or escape control. These theoretical concerns are illustrated with examples from the author’s fieldwork on Bulgarian music.

Keywords:   emotions, musical meaning, Martin Clayton, metaphors, Charles S. Peirce, Thomas Turino, Michel Foucault, Bulgarian music

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