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Speaking of MusicAddressing the Sonorous$
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Keith Chapin and Andrew H. Clark

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251384

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251384.001.0001

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Weather Reports: Discourse and Musical Cognition

Weather Reports: Discourse and Musical Cognition

(p.159) Weather Reports: Discourse and Musical Cognition
Speaking of Music

Per Aage Brandt

Fordham University Press

When music is experienced, and especially when it is felt as important to the subject and as beautiful, the subject's critical – descriptive and evaluative – discourse regularly uses references to imaginary spaces and to states and events taking place there, including meteorological phenomena and cosmic visions, so that critical accounts begin to resemble weather reports or poetry. We discuss some examples of this extremely common but still curious cognitive phenomenon, which pertains to the problem of musical meaning: Is mental space-building involving imagery of this kind part of the semantics of music? Can spatial imagery be dismissed as core semantic components in the content of musical experiences? – We add a semiotic dimension to the discussion by comparing the phenomenon in question to double-space perception in the experience of coded signs and language. Signs become artful when their codes are weakened; instead of functioning as performative signals, they then give rise to playful auto-referential performances, and their signified content deepens and changes into autonomous imaginary ‘worlds’ inducing feelings of sacredness. This happens in music, which in fact constitutes the main medium for those sacred, not necessarily religious but still ‘spiritual’, extra-worldly, oniric experiences that human beings enjoy in art.

Keywords:   Space-building, Imagery, musical cognition, semiotics, code-weakening, sacredness

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