The Importance Of Symbolism In Music

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Introduction
In Communication, symbols are seen as signs that give an explanation of “how signs come to represent objects, ideas, states, situations, feelings, and conditions outside of themselves” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2008:35). To this end, a symbol, is an abstract and subjective sign with various meanings (e.g. personal) given to it. Generally, a symbol will form part of a larger system, constructed in a preferred fashion. This characteristic of symbols gives people the opportunity to use symbols in endless combinations for expressing meaning.
Music is a form of language that makes use of symbols, which represent abstract thoughts, and when used in various combinations, communicates certain concepts and, or ideas. Barrett (2007:117) claims that musical notation is not the only way in which musical meaning is communicated; other ways include harmonic structure, use of dynamics and articulation symbols, as at its core, music is about communication (Sawyer, 2007:53), and it can be said that musical communication, broadly, can be defined as a process whereby meaning is conveyed or transmitted from person to person (Juslin, 2007:85) through the use of notational symbols. However, there are two groups of theorists regarding musical meaning i.e. the absolutist; meaning is in the music, and the referentialists; music refers to concepts outside the music.
Similar studies have been conducted. McLean (1981) was one of the first theorists to argue that musical notation is a symbolic

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