Combined Academic Publishers

A Theory of Musical Semiotics

9780253356499: Hardback
Release Date: 22nd December 1994

4 b&w photos, 141 illus.

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 352

Edition: Abridged

Series Advances in Semiotics

Indiana University Press

A Theory of Musical Semiotics

Written by
Eero Tarasti
Foreword by
Thomas A. Sebeok
Hardback / £33.00

Since [Tarasti’s] is unquestionably the most fully developed narrative theory in the literature, this book is an important landmark... " —Music & Letters

Eero Tarasti advances a semiotic theory of music based on information provided by the history of Western music and by various sign theories. A Theory of Musical Semiotics provides a model for the semiotic analysis of both musical structure and semantics. It introduces English-language readers to musical narratology, which has been largely the province of European researchers.

Foreword by Thomas A. Sebeok



Part One: Theoretical Background

I. In Search of a Theory
1.1 A Brief Critical History of Musical Semiotics
1.2 Reflections on the Logic of Musical Discourse
1.3 The Problem of Narrativity in Music
1.4 Toward the Definition of Modalities: Signs in Opera
1.5 On the Truth in Music
1.6 The Theory Itself in an Abridged Form

II. Musical Time
2.1 Music in Micro-Time: The Role of Memory
2.2 Music in Macro-Time: Music Models throught the Ages

III. Musical Space

IV. Musical Actors
4.1 Ernst Kurth as a Precursor of Musical Semiotics: Steps toward the Definition of Actoriality in Music
4.2 From Musical Subjects to Theme-Actors

Part Two: Analyses

V. Semiosis of the Classical Style: Beethoven’s "Waldstein"

VI. Narrativity in Chopin
6.1 Polonaise-Fantaisie and the Idea of Narrative Program
6.2 Writing a Modal Grammar: Chopin’s Ballade in G Minor

VII. Music and Literature
7.1 The Case of Obermann: Franz Liszt and Marie d’Agoult in Switzerland
7.2 "Apres un reve": A Semiotic Approach to the Study of Musical Performance

VIII. Music and Visual Arts: Pictures and Promenades—A Peircean Excursion into the Semiosis of Musorgsky

IX. The Semiotics of Symphonism: A Deconstruction of National Meanings in Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony

X. Toward the Modern Scene
10.1 Debussy’s Impressionism in the Prelude "...La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune"
10.2 Minimalism and Anti-Narrativity


Appendix: "Apres un reve"

EERO TARASTI is Professor of Musicology at the University of Helsinki. One of the world's leading semioticians, he is author of Myth and Music, a biography of Heitor Villa-Lobos, and many articles published in journals of musicology and semiotics.