An Experiential Approach To Musical Semantics

Semiotics:806-818 (2008)

Mark Reybrouck
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
This paper is about knowledge construction in music listening. It argues for an experiential approach to music cognition, stressing the dynamic-vectorial field of meaning rather than the symbolic field. Starting from the conceptual framework of deixis and indexical devices, it elaborates on the concept of pointing as a heuristic guide for sense-making which allows the listener to conceive of perceptual elements in terms of salience, valence and semantical weight. As such, the act of (mental) pointing can be predicative, either in a nominalistic or processual way, giving a description of the temporal evolution of a situation as against episodic nominalizations that refer to just one single instance of the process. The latter, especially, are characterized by distancing and polarization between the listener and the music, allowing him/her to deal with the music also at a level of mental imagery and to construct a mental or cognitive map of its unfolding.
Keywords musical semantics  deixis and music  cognitive maps  experiential approach to music
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DOI 10.5840/cpsem200866
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Cognitive Maps in Rats and Men.Edward C. Tolman - 1948 - Psychological Review 55 (4):189-208.

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