In the Defence of Musical Meaning

  • Una Popović Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad
Keywords: musical meaning, verbal meaning, sound, type/token, articulation


 This paper is about the musical meaning and its relation to verbal meaning. My aim is to show that musical meaning should be sharply differentiated from the verbal one, that it should not be understood as a subspecies of verbal meaning, or as a meaning of a verbal sort whatsoever. I will address this issue starting with the sounds of music and language, and working my way up from those: by comparing these sounds and the way they relate to their meanings, I will show that musical sounds are strongly connected with musical meanings, that they have token-like qualities. Resulting from this is a suggestion to redefine the way we use the concepts of meaning and articulation, so that they would allow for the concept of non-verbal, musical meaning. Additionally, my suggestion is that musical meaning per se should be differentiated from the non-musical meanings music can communicate and convey – one does not exclude the other.


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