2nd International Congress of Musicology

Athens Concert Hall, 4-6 November 2003

Paper Abstracts

Constantin Floros

Musical Semantics and Semantic Analysis

Translation in Greek: Ioannis Fulias

Music is distinguished from language above all because its “meaning” (in a sense of an extra-musical meaning) is not similar to it in its origin. Nevertheless, it commands an elementary as well as a traditional symbolism. During the last decades perspectives of the communication theory and of aesthetics on reception have produced a revolution in the methodical process in almost all the sciences of arts. In a certain way, language and music may be characterised as communication systems. The principal solicitude of musical analysis was ever to “dismember” the structure of a composition, i.e. to find out how it has been “worked out”. However, it should be taken into consideration that in a music work not everything is “structure”.

Aim of semantic analysis is not only to bring to light concealed programmes, but also to conceive scientifically music’s “expression” and the “spiritual” in an art-work. A prolific semantic analysis presupposes various things: the elucidation of the biographical situation, during which a work has been created, the intensive study of the history of its creation (including the sketches), the knowledge of the author’s spiritual interests and intentions, and mainly the systematic research on his language of symbols. Several composers give a semantic substance in their music through citations and allusions, through idiophonic and sound symbols, through musical characters, through numerical symbols, anagrams of notes, and cryptograms of all sorts. The procedure of the semantic analysis is exemplified at Fryderyk Chopin’s Nocturne in g minor, Opus 15 No. 3, written in 1833.

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