Word, Tone, Context: Communication and Sense in the Medium of Music

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


I attempt to revisit here from an interdisciplinary perspective the debate about music and language. The discussion starts from the denial of the language character of music, defended by a certain musicological canon, and is oriented towards its refutation. It postulates the interdependence of performance, context and meaning, both in verbal language and in music. The parallels between “colloquial music” (that is, without being based on a notated support) and conversation or talk, and between writing and musical notation (“presentational music”) allow to develop this comparative approach, ending up with communication beyond the signs and its relevance for the discussion of the language character of music. In conclusion, I argue that musical practices manifest themselves in an endless and unlimited semiosis, to which they give rise as social practices, making them, on the one hand, close to linguistic communication, and, on the other hand, paradigms of artistic communication.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWord Art + Gesture Art = Tone Art
Subtitle of host publicationthe Relationship between the Vocal and the Instrumental in Different Arts
EditorsHanns-Werner Heister, Hanjo Polk, Bernhard Rusam
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783031201097
ISBN (Print)9783031201080
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Communication and copresence and embodiment
  • Communication beyond the signs
  • Holistic approach
  • Linguistic and musical performances
  • Linguistic turn
  • Music and language
  • Music and the unconscious
  • Musical notation and recovery of presence
  • Music’s language character
  • Semiosis
  • The “unsayable” and musical meaning
  • Verbalization and deverbalization of music
  • “Colloquial” and “presentational” music


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