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Musical Semantics


Ole Kühl

Music offers a new insight into human cognition. The musical play with sounds in time, in which we share feelings, gestures and narratives, has fascinated people from all times and cultures.
The author studies this semiotic behavior in the light of research from a number of sources. Being an analytical study, the volume combines evidence from neurobiology, developmental psychology and cognitive science. It aims to bridge the gap between music as an empirical object in the world and music as lived experience. This is the semantic aspect of music: how can something like an auditory stream of structured sound evoke such a strong reaction in the listener?
The book is in two parts. In the first part, the biological foundations of music and their cognitive manifestations are considered in order to establish a groundwork for speaking of music in generic, cross-cultural terms. The second part develops the semantic aspect of music as an embodied, emotively grounded and cognitively structured expression of human experience.


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Foreword 13


ŗřȱ ˜›Ž ˜›ȱ ˜’—ȱ‘›˜ž‘ȱ‘’œȱ–Š—žœŒ›’™ȱ’—ȱ‘Žȱ•ŠœȱœŠŽœȱ˜ȱ’œȱ™›Ž™Š›Š’˜—ǰȱȱ ›ŽŠ•’£Žȱ“žœȱ‘˜ ȱ•˜—ȱ‘’œȱ‹˜˜”ȱ‘Šœȱ‹ŽŽ—ȱ’—ȱ‘Žȱ–Š”’—ǯȱ˜–Žȱ˜ȱ’œȱ ‹Šœ’Œȱ’ŽŠœȱŠŽȱ‹ŠŒ”ȱ˜ȱ‘Žȱ•ŠŽȱŗşŜŖœǰȱ ‘Ž—ȱȱŽ–Ž›ŽȱŠœȱŠȱ¢˜ž—ȱ œŠ¡˜™‘˜—Žȱ™•Š¢Ž›ȱ˜—ȱŠȱ¢—Š–’Œȱ–žœ’Œȱ œŒŽ—Žȱ ’—ȱ˜™Ž—‘ŠŽ—ǯȱ ȱ Š–ȱ —˜ȱœ˜ȱ–žŒ‘ȱœ™ŽŠ”’—ȱŠ‹˜žȱŸŠ•žŽœȱŠ—ȱ ’Ž˜•˜’Žœǰȱ Š•‘˜ž‘ȱ ‘ŽœŽȱ ‘ŠŸŽȱŒ‘Š—ŽȱŒ˜—œ’Ž›Š‹•¢ȱ’—ȱ‘Žȱ’—Ž›ŸŽ—’—ȱřŖȱ˜ȱŚŖȱ¢ŽŠ›œǯȱŠ‘Ž›ǰȱ ’ȱ ’œȱŠ‹˜žȱ ‘Žȱ Œ‘Š›ŠŒŽ›ȱ˜ȱ–¢ȱ Ž¡™Ž›’Ž—ŒŽȱ˜ȱ–Š”’—ǰȱ œ‘Š›’—ǰȱ Š—ȱ Ž—“˜¢’—ȱ–žœ’Œǰȱ ‘’Œ‘ȱ‘ŠœȱŠ• Š¢œȱ‹ŽŽ—ȱ—Šž›Š•ȱŠ—ȱŽŸ’Ž—ȱ˜ȱ–Žȱȭȱ Š—ǰȱŠœȱŠ›ȱŠœȱȱ‘ŠŸŽȱ‹ŽŽ—ȱŠ‹•Žȱ˜ȱŠ‘Ž›ǰȱ˜ȱ–Š—¢ȱ˜ȱ‘Žȱ–žœ’Œ’Š—œȱȱ ‘ŠŸŽȱ‹ŽŽ—ȱ˜›ž—ŠŽȱŽ—˜ž‘ȱ˜ȱ™•Š¢ȱ ’‘ǯȱȱ’œȱŠ‹˜žȱ ‘Šȱ–žœ’Œȱ’œǰȱ ‘˜ ȱ Žȱœ‘Š›Žȱ’ǰȱŠ—ȱ ‘Šȱ˜Žœȱ˜—ȱ’—œ’Žȱ˜ž›œŽ•ŸŽœǰȱ ‘Ž—ȱ ŽȱŽ—“˜¢ȱ ’ǯȱ ȱ‘Žȱ›Ž•Š’ŸŽ•¢ȱ•ŠŽȱŠŽȱ˜ȱŚśǰȱȱ Šœȱ’—›˜žŒŽȱ˜ȱ–žœ’Œ˜•˜¢ȱ Š—ȱœ˜˜—ȱ‹ŽŒŠ–Žȱ›Š’’Žȱ‹¢ȱ ‘Žȱ˜™™˜›ž—’¢ȱ ‘Šȱ™›ŽœŽ—Žȱ’œŽ•ȱ ‘›˜ž‘ȱ Šȱ œŒ’Ž—’’Œȱ Š™™›˜ŠŒ‘ȱ ˜ȱ–žœ’Œȱ ˜›ȱ ‘Žȱ Œ˜—Ž–™•Š’˜—ȱ Š—ȱ ŸŽ›‹Š•’£Š’˜—ȱ ˜ȱ ‘Šǰȱ  ‘’Œ‘ȱ  Šœȱ œ˜ȱ ŽŠ›ȱ ˜ȱ –Žǯȱ ˜ ŽŸŽ›ǰȱ ȱ Š•œ˜ȱ ‹ŽŒŠ–Žȱœ˜–Ž ‘Šȱ ›žœ›ŠŽȱ’—ȱ ›ŽŠ•’£’—ȱ ‘Šȱ Š›ŽŠœȱ˜ȱ–žœ’Œȱ ‘Šȱ ȱ Œ˜—œ’Ž›ŽȱŸ’Š•ȱ Ž›Žȱ–˜›Žȱ˜›ȱ•Žœœȱ’—˜›Žȱ’—ȱ‘ŽȱŠ—’œ‘ȱŸŽ›œ’˜—ȱ˜ȱ ‘’œȱœŒ’Ž—’’Œȱ’œŒ’™•’—Žǰȱ ‘’Œ‘ȱŠ’•Žȱ˜ȱŽ–‹›ŠŒŽȱ‘Žȱœž‹Ȭ’œŒ’™•’—Žœȱ ˜ȱ–žœ’Œȱ™œ¢Œ‘˜•˜¢ȱŠ—ȱ—Žž›˜–žœ’Œ˜•˜¢ǰȱ—˜ȱ˜ȱ–Ž—’˜—ȱŒ˜—’’ŸŽȱ –žœ’Œ˜•˜¢ǯȱ —˜›Š—ȱ ˜ȱ ‘Žȱ ŠŒȱ ‘Šȱ ‘ŽœŽȱ œž‹Ȭ’œŒ’™•’—Žœȱ  Ž›Žȱ ›˜ ’—ȱ–Š—¢ȱ ™•ŠŒŽœȱ ’—ȱ ‘Žȱ  ˜›•ǰȱ ȱ ”Ž™ȱ œŽŠ›Œ‘’—ȱ ˜›ȱ ŠŽšžŠŽȱ  Š¢œȱ˜ȱŽœŒ›’™’˜—ȱŠ—ȱŠ—Š•¢œ’œǰȱž—’•ȱ ȱ ’—Š••¢ȱ–Žȱ ’‘ȱ™›˜Žœœ˜›ȱ Ž›ȱŠŽȱ›Š—ȱ ›˜–ȱ ‘ŽȱŽ—Ž›ȱ˜ȱ Ž–’˜’Œœȱ Šȱ ‘Žȱ—’ŸŽ›œ’¢ȱ˜ȱ Š›‘žœǯȱ Žȱ’—›˜žŒŽȱ–Žȱ˜ȱœŽ–’˜’ŒȱŠ—Š•¢œ’œǰȱ˜ȱŒ˜—’’ŸŽȱœŒ’Ž—ŒŽǰȱ —Žž›˜‹’˜•˜¢ǰȱŠ—ȱŒ˜—œŒ’˜žœ—Žœœȱ œž’Žœǰȱ Š—ȱ›ŠžŠ••¢ȱ ’ȱŠ —Žȱ ž™˜—ȱ–Žȱ‘Šȱ‘Ž›Žȱ ŠœȱŠȱ Š¢ȱ˜ȱŠŒ‘’ŽŸŽȱ ‘Šȱȱ Š—Žǯȱ ȱ™’•˜ȱ™›˜“ŽŒȱŽ–Ž›’—ȱ›˜–ȱ‘’œȱŒ˜••Š‹˜›Š’˜—ȱ Šœȱ•Šž—Œ‘Žȱ ’—ȱŘŖŖŗȱ’—ȱ‘Žȱ˜›–ȱ˜ȱ–¢ȱ–ŠœŽ›Ȃœȱ‘Žœ’œȱ–™›˜Ÿ’œŠ’˜—ȱ˜ȱŠ—”Žȱǻȁ‘Žȱ –™›˜Ÿ’œ’—ȱ’—ȂǼǰȱ ’—ȱ ‘’Œ‘ȱ Œ˜—’’ŸŽȱ Š—ȱ œŽ–’˜’Œȱ Š—Š•¢œ’œȱ Šœȱ Š™™•’Žȱ ˜ȱ Šȱ ‘Š›•’Žȱ Š›”Ž›Ȭœ˜•˜ǯȱ ’—Š••¢ǰȱ ȱ  Šœȱ •žŒ”¢ȱ Ž—˜ž‘ȱ ˜ȱ ›ŽŒŽ’ŸŽȱŠȱ›Š—ȱ›˜–ȱ‘ŽȱŠ—’œ‘ȱ’—’œ›¢ȱ˜ȱž•ž›Žǰȱ ‘’Œ‘ȱŠ••˜ Žȱ –Žȱ‘Žȱ˜™™˜›ž—’¢ȱ˜ȱœ™Ž—ȱ ˜ȱ¢ŽŠ›œȱ’—ȱœŽŒ•žœ’ŸŽȱœž¢ȱ˜ȱ–žœ’ŒŠ•ȱ Œ˜—’’˜—ǯȱ‘’œȱŸ˜•ž–Žȱ’œȱ‘Žȱ‘ž–‹•Žȱ›Žœž•ǯ ŗŚȱ •ŽŠ›•¢ǰȱ ‘’œȱ  ˜›”ȱ Œ˜ž•ȱ —ŽŸŽ›ȱ ‘ŠŸŽȱ œžŒŒŽŽŽȱ  ’‘˜žȱ ‘Žȱ ž—’›’—ȱœž™™˜›ȱŠ—ȱ’—œ™’›Š’˜—ȱ›˜–ȱŽ›ȱŠŽȱ›Š—ǰȱ ˜ȱ ‘˜–ȱȱ Š–ȱ ŽŽ™•¢ȱ ›ŠŽž•ǯȱ Žȱ ’œȱ —˜ ȱ Šȱ ™›˜Žœœ˜›ȱ Šȱ ‘Žȱ ŠœŽȱ ŽœŽ›—ȱ ŽœŽ›ŸŽȱ —’ŸŽ›œ’¢ȱ ’—ȱ •ŽŸŽ•Š—ǰȱ Š—ȱ ȱ ŒŠ—ȱ ˜—•¢ȱ Ž—Œ˜ž›ŠŽȱ ‘’œȱ œžŽ—œȱ Š—ȱ Œ˜Ȭ ˜›”Ž›œȱ ˜ȱ –Š”Žȱ ‘Žȱ ‹Žœȱ ˜ȱ ‘Ž’›ȱ ˜™™˜›ž—’¢ǯȱ ȱ œ‘˜ž•ȱ ‹Žȱ –Ž—’˜—Žȱ ‘Ž›Žȱ ‘Šȱ ‹Žœ’Žœȱ ‹Ž’—ȱ Šȱ ™‘’•˜œ˜™‘Ž›ǰȱ Šȱ œŽ–’˜’Œ’Š—ǰȱ Š—ȱ Šȱ •’—ž’œǰȱ ›Š—ȱ ’œȱ Š•œ˜ȱ Š—ȱ Ž¡ŒŽ••Ž—ȱ “Š££ȱ ™’Š—˜ȱ ™•Š¢Ž›ǰȱŠ—ȱŠ—ȱŠŒŒ•Š’–Žȱ™˜Žǯȱ ȱ ž›‘Ž›ȱ  ’œ‘ȱ ˜ȱ Ž¡™›Žœœȱ –¢ȱ ›Š’žŽȱ ˜ȱ ™›˜Žœœ˜›ȱ ˜• ¢—ȱ ›ŽŸŠ›‘Ž—ȱ›˜–ȱ’—‹ž›‘ȱ—’ŸŽ›œ’¢ȱ˜›ȱ‘Žȱ’—Ž›Žœȱ‘Žȱ‘ŠœȱŠ”Ž—ȱ ’—ȱ–¢ȱ ˜›”ǰȱ˜›ȱ‘ŽȱœžŽœ’˜—œȱ‘Žȱ‘Šœȱ–ŠŽǰȱŠ—ȱ˜›ȱ‘Žȱ’–Žȱȱ‘ŠŸŽȱ œ™Ž—ȱ’—ȱ‘’œȱŒ˜–™Š—¢ǯȱȱ’—ȱ‘’œȱ›ŽœŽŠ›Œ‘ȱ˜ȱ‹ŽȱŠȱŒ˜—œŠ—ȱœ˜ž›ŒŽȱ˜ȱ ’—œ™’›Š’˜—ǰȱ Š—ȱ ŒŠ—ȱ œ›˜—•¢ȱ ›ŽŒ˜––Ž—ȱ ŽŸŽ›¢‹˜¢ȱ ’—Ž›ŽœŽȱ ’—ȱ ‘ž–Š—ȱŒ˜—’’˜—ȱ˜ȱŠ”ŽȱŠȱ˜˜ȱ•˜˜”ȱŠȱ’ǯȱ Š—¢ȱ ™Ž˜™•Žȱ ‘ŠŸŽȱ œ›˜—ȱ ˜™’—’˜—œȱ Š‹˜žȱ –žœ’Œǰȱ  ‘’Œ‘ȱ ˜—•¢ȱ ˜Žœȱ ˜ȱ œ‘˜ ȱ ‘Žȱ Ž–˜’˜—Š•ȱ ’—ŸŽœ–Ž—ȱ  Žȱ –Š”Žȱ ’—ȱ ’ǯȱ ȱ  ’œ‘ȱ ˜ȱ ‘Š—”ȱ™›˜Žœœ˜›ȱŽ›•’—ȱ˜—Š•ȱŠ—ȱ™›˜Žœœ˜›ȱŠ›”ȱž›—Ž›ǰȱ‹˜‘ȱ˜ȱ ŠœŽȱŽœŽ›—ȱŽœŽ›ŸŽȱ—’ŸŽ›œ’¢ǰȱ˜›ȱŠȱ‘ŽŠŽȱ’œŒžœœ’˜—ȱŠȱ Š¢—ȱ Š••ȱ˜—ȱŠ—ȱŽŠ›•¢ȱœ™›’—ȱŠ¢ȱ’—ȱŘŖŖŜǰȱ ‘’Œ‘ȱ›ŽŠ•¢ȱ’—•žŽ—ŒŽȱœ˜–Žȱ ˜ȱ‘Žȱ–Š“˜›ȱŽŒ’œ’˜—œȱȱ‘Šȱ˜ȱ–Š”ŽȱŠȱŠȱ•ŠŽ›ȱ“ž—Œž›Žǯȱ Žȱ–Žȱž›‘Ž›ȱŽ¡™›Žœœȱ–¢ȱ›Š’žŽȱ˜ȱ‘ŽȱŠ—’œ‘ȱ’—’œ›¢ȱ˜ȱ ž•ž›Žȱ˜›ȱ‘Ž’›ȱŽ—Ž›˜žœȱ›Š—ȱ‘Šȱ‘ŠœȱŠ••˜ Žȱ–Žȱ˜ȱŒ˜—ŒŽ—›ŠŽȱ ž••¢ȱ˜—ȱ‘’œȱ™›˜“ŽŒȱ˜›ȱ ˜ȱ¢ŽŠ›œǯȱ—ȱ˜ȱ‘ŽȱœŠȱŠ—ȱœžŽ—œȱ˜ȱ ‘Žȱ Ž—Ž›ȱ ˜ȱ Ž–’˜’Œœǰȱ  ‘’Œ‘ȱ ‘Šœȱ ‘˜žœŽȱ ‘Žȱ ™›˜“ŽŒǰȱ ˜›ȱ Š–™•Žȱ ˜™™˜›ž—’’Žœȱ˜›ȱ’—œ™’›Žȱ’œŒžœœ’˜—ǰȱ’Š•˜žŽǰȱŠ—ȱŒ›’’Œ’œ–ǯȱ ‘’œȱ ˜›”ȱ›˜ œȱ˜žȱ˜ȱ ‘Žȱ œ˜Œ’Š•ȱŠŒȱ˜ȱ™•Š¢’—ȱ–žœ’Œǰȱ Š—ȱ ’ȱ œ‘˜ž•ȱ—˜ȱ‹Žȱ™›ŽœŽ—Žȱ ’‘˜žȱŠȱ›ŽŒ˜—’’˜—ȱ˜ȱ ‘ŽȱŽ‹ȱȱ˜ Žȱ˜ȱ ‘Žȱ ȱ–Š—¢ȱ–žœ’Œ’Š—œȱ ȱ ‘ŠŸŽȱ™•Š¢Žȱ ’‘ȱ Š—ȱ •ŽŠ›—ȱ ›˜–ȱ˜ŸŽ›ȱ ‘Žȱ ¢ŽŠ›œǯȱȱŽœ™ŽŒ’Š••¢ȱ ’œ‘ȱ˜ȱ‘Š—”ȱ‘Žȱ•ŠŽȱŽ¡Ž›ȱ ˜›˜—ȱ˜›ȱŽŠŒ‘’—ȱ –Žȱ˜ȱȁœ’—ȂȱŠ—ȱ˜‘—ȱŒ‘’ŒŠ’ȱ˜›ȱŽŠŒ‘’—ȱ–Žȱ˜ȱȁ•’œŽ—Ȃǯȱ—ȱȱ ’œ‘ȱ ˜ȱ ‘Š—”ȱ ȱ ˜—Žœǰȱ Ž’ȱ Š•”ǰȱ ˜ž•ȱ ‘•Ž›œǰȱ ‘˜–Šœȱ •ŠžœŽ—ǰȱ Š•ȱ Š•›˜—ǰȱŽȱž›œ˜—ǰȱ Š•ȱ˜œ˜—ǰȱ›’•˜”ȱ ž›žǰȱ‘–ŠžȱŠ››ǰȱȱ ‘’™Ž—ǰȱ˜—ȱ‘Ž››¢ǰȱ ˜—Šœǰȱ œœ’ǰȱ Žœ™Ž›ǰȱ Š—ȱ–Š—¢ǰȱ–Š—¢ȱ˜‘Ž›œȱ ˜›ȱ‘Žȱ–žœ’Œȱ Žȱ‘ŠŸŽȱ–ŠŽȱ˜Ž‘Ž›ǯȱ ˜œȱ’–™˜›Š—•¢ǰȱ–¢ȱŠ–’•¢ȱ‘Šœȱ‹˜›—ȱ‘Žȱ‘ŽŠŸ’Žœȱ™Š›ȱ˜ȱ ‘Žȱ ‹ž›Ž—ȱ˜ȱ‘’œȱ ˜›”ǯȱ‘Ž›Žȱ’œȱ—˜ȱ Š¢ȱȱŒŠ—ȱŽ¡™›Žœœȱ–¢ȱ›Š’žŽȱ˜ȱ –¢ȱ ’Žȱ˜›ȱ‘Ž›ȱœ˜ž—ȱŠŸ’ŒŽȱŠ—ȱž—Šž—Žȱœž™™˜›ǯ

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