Musical Signs Essay

1735 Words7 Pages
In the ‘Introductory notes to the Semiotics of Music’ by Phillip Tagg 1999, after a discussion on musical structure it is proposed ‘that definitions of musical structures must, in a semiotic context, be based on information from both the transmitting and receiving ends’ and finds not all structural elements on the transmitting side are musical signifiers. Hence the need to discuss how some musical structures can act as signifiers and how we identify them. From this followed the development of a sign typology of music that identifies four major different types of musical signs: 1) Anaphones 2) Genre Synecdoche 3) Episodic Marker, and 4) Style Indicator. The sign typology is an attempt to give some highly common and everyday semantic practices and mechanisms adequate names to make discussion on these musical structures easier. “Anaphone is a neologism analogous to 'analogy'. However, instead of meaning imitation of existing models... in the formation of words', anaphone means the use the use of existing models in the formation of (musical) sounds. Anaphones fall into three main categories:” (Tagg, 1991). Sonic Anaphone A Sonic Anaphone described in short by Tagg (1991) is ‘perceived similarly to paramusical “sound”, it is an ‘onomatopoeic stylisation of a non musical sound’. Basically, a sonic anaphone imitates the sound it is describing, suggesting its source object. For example the sound of rain can be played on a harp by stroking the strings in a soft repetitive, harmonious manner. Or the sound of somebody tip-toeing can be played on a piano by gently pressing 2 keys of a similar high pitched tone in a repetitive 1-2 pattern. However for a sonic anaphone to work properly the listener must by familiar with the cultural norms of the onomatopoeic stylisation of which the sound was created. Furthermore ‘the

More about Musical Signs Essay

Open Document