The Importance Of Symbolism In Music

1218 Words5 Pages
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
Open Document