A Framework for Musical Meaning

Publication: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution - Article for conferenceResearchpeer-review


Compared to other forms of art, speaking of “meaning” seems to be most elusive in music, since the kind of “meaning” involved basically is neither semantic nor depicting. One might conclude that it makes no sense to speak of musical meaning at all, but this conclusion has seemed too rash to many thinkers. Consequently, the problem has been approached in quite varied ways. The present paper proposes a framework in order to throw light upon the relations between those various approaches to understand the meaning of music. This frame is triangular, its three points being (1) musical structure and analysis, (2) the embodied experience of listening, (3) the hermeneutic approach to interpret music in terms of its relation to the world. I provide short descriptions of the relations of interdependence by which these aspects influence each other, as well as suggestions how to place several recent theories of musical meaning in the proposed framework.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics, vol. 4 (2012)
Number of pages13
Publication date2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventEuropean Society for Aesthetics Conference 2012 - Guimaraes, Portugal
Duration: 25.06.201227.06.2012
Conference number: 4