Some Thoughts on Music via Semiotics

March 8, 2012

Working under the aesthetic premise that it is the context of some physical thing that charges it with meaning, I would like to say a few words about music.  It’s actually quite simple and not that profound at all, but frequently looked over by musicians and other artists.  Music is simply a way for cultures to communicate with one another.  Any other discussion about music is merely talking about taste in some ungrounded theoretical way.  The context of a song at a particular venue is what charges the tune with cultural power, similarly to the way the context of a symbol can charge it with meaning, like in natural languages.  It is the language of inter-cultural discourse.  In a phrase, tone or rhythm, musical histories that extend into socio-political histories are summoned to the venue.  It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Metal or Punk-Classical.  You are inevitably continuing the historical inter-cultural dialectic, either through an embrace or rejection of musical sensibilities throughout history.  If you accept the premise and follow it through, as a musician, you are the voice of a people in a vast history of cultural dialectics.  Musical traditionalists that adhere to strict tonal, rhythmic and emotional limitations are as mute to cultural discourse as a Cubist painting hanging on a white wall in a museum. Image

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