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Language and Music as Cognitive Systems$
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Patrick Rebuschat, Martin Rohmeier, John A. Hawkins, and Ian Cross

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553426

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553426.001.0001

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Music as a social and cognitive process

Music as a social and cognitive process

(p.315) Chapter 33 Music as a social and cognitive process
Language and Music as Cognitive Systems

Ian Cross

Oxford University Press

This chapter ties together many of the topics covered in the four sections of the volume. It discusses how the types of process that enable music to be functional as a medium for managing situations of social uncertainty relate to the more general processes involved in social interaction. It hypothesizes that both music and language may draw on the same pool of communicative resources. At the same time, they do appear to be distinguishable in at least three ways. First, language and music can be distinguished semantically in terms of their capacity to embody articulate propositions. Second, language and music can be distinguished structurally in terms of the extent to which affective/rhythmic or syntactical/semantic features are foregrounded. Third, language and music can be distinguished in terms of the communicative contexts within which they tend to be efficaciously deployed. Language can be thought of as mobilizing shared intentionality for goal-directed behaviour, while music can be interpreted as mobilizing shared intentionality per se. Music and language can thus be interpreted as context-specific manifestations of a common substrate for human communicative capacities.

Keywords:   music, language, social uncertainty, social interaction, human communication

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