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Welcome to JMM13!

With Rolling Publication

JMM: The Journal of Music and Meaning publishes articles as they become ready for publication. In this blog you can follow the development of the 13th issue of JMM.
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Full Issue PDF Posted on Jul 31, 2017 21:22:08

A full PDF document of JMM13 can now be downloaded here.

Watch to see the next issue, JMM13 develop.

Basso: A Low Point in the Study of Musical Meaning and Metaphor

Peer-Reviewed Papers Posted on Jan 26, 2017 20:46:51

Recent literature encourages an exploration of musical meaning through metaphor, as the affective character of music is allusive, evocative and seldom literal. But while in theory metaphor can explain aspects of musical meaning, in practice the definitions of metaphor are as vague and various as the abstract sounds that they would elucidate. Scholars have not handled the awkward historical slipperiness of metaphors which, like language, change over time. Using the example of low notes, this article historicizes the metaphorical motif of deep sounds, showing how ‘high’ and ‘low’ follow a suggestive vein of poetic intuition. Historically, ‘high’ and ‘low’ carry persistent social and moral connotations. Examining the philology behind conceptions of lowness from antiquity to the baroque, this article proposes that low notes—and low instruments and their parts—have different meanings to their higher-frequency counterparts; in particular, it inquires into how much the prevailing associations of evil and inferiority are induced upon low registers and under what conditions this ‘baseness’ may be redeemed. Proposing patterns for the simultaneous terror and benign authority of lowness from fields beyond music, the article argues that the backdrop of evil in bass and base (basso) is a necessary semantic element in the aesthetic development of European multi-voiced music. The moral or psychological metaphor is thus integral to the aesthetic content of music.

The author, Robert Nelson is Associate Director Student Learning Experience at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia), where he was also Head of Department of Theory in what is now the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture. He holds Masters and PhD degrees in Art History from La Trobe University and has been art critic for The Age for 20 years. He was also the scene painter for the photographic artist Polixeni Papapetrou ( Robert has published many articles and books concerning the overlap of the aesthetic and the moral across several genres, from performance to furniture. In his research, he tries to explain the structure of imaginative expression by connecting it with the history of ideas.

Read Robert Nelson’s article here

Temporality in Xenakis and Ferneyhough

Peer-Reviewed Papers Posted on Dec 14, 2016 14:21:52

This article comprises a comparative exploration of the conception of temporality by Iannis Xenakis and Brian Ferneyhough, as well as a study of their compositional responses to this conceptualization. Xenakis remarked that music exists primarily “outside of time,” whereas Ferneyhough reflects on the “tactility of time.” These ideas are developed here within a phenomenological framework, with particular reference to concepts by Jean-Luc Nancy, mainly those of sense and resonance. When cross-examined, Xenakis’s and Ferneyhough’s approaches, although quite different, are shown to resonate with each other, as both developed compositional methods based on sieves: the former for the production of sonorities and the latter as a means to formal articulation.

The author, Dimitris Exarchos, is a theorist and musicologist specialising in contemporary music. He holds a PhD in Theory and Analysis from Goldsmiths. He has published in books and journals, delivered talks in the UK and abroad, organised symposia at Goldsmiths’ Contemporary Music Research Unit (CMRU) and curated concerts and events (Southbank Centre, Goldsmiths). For a number of years he also taught Music Analysis and History at the University of Surrey. Recently he was a Research Fellow at the State Institute for Music Research in Berlin, Germany and is currently Visiting Research Fellow at CMRU. His research explores the intersections between post-structuralist philosophy and contemporary composition, including computational and mathematical approaches.

Read Dimitris Exarchos’ article here

Buñuel’s Liebestod – Wagner’s Tristan in Luis Buñuel’s early films: Un Chien Andalou and L’Âge d’Or

Peer-Reviewed Papers Posted on Dec 10, 2014 15:10:55

The research on the first two films of Luis Buñuel (which he made in collaboration with Salvador Dali) suffers from a neglect of the importance of his insistent use of the music from Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde. This analysis shows how a closer look at the Wagnerian themes and their specific use in Un Chien Anadalou and L’Âge d’Or are crucial to an understanding of the themes of love and death.
When Buñuel employed the music of Tristan to the otherwise silent movie Un Chien Andalou interchanging with a light Argentinean tango, the intricate play of contrast and dialogue between solemnity and mockery, between empathy and cynicism, is emphasized. At the same time, the theme of love/death can be seen as a thread which unifies the otherwise very confusing filmic collage.
In L’Âge d’Or (‘The Golden Age’) the music of Tristan is a clear leitmotif surrounding the mad love of the protagonists. When this music is played live in the garden, it ignites not only their desire but also a sequence of inner and outer events and conflicts, resulting in a tragic, enraged breakup. Before this concert, Wagner’s music occurs in brief passages, emphasizing the unity of the lovers, transcending spatial separation.
In both films Buñuel employs Wagner in an ambivalent gesture where the themes of desire and death are emphasized while at the same time the more solemn metaphysical implications in Wagner are deflated, moving from romanticism towards surrealism while at the same time creating a link between the two.

The author, Torben Sangild, was a scholar and lecturer at Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at University of Copenhagen 1997-2013, with a PhD as well as two postdoctorals. His main research field is contemporary art, aesthetics, philosophy, music and sound. He is now a freelance writer, critic, lecturer, editor, radio host and consultant. He has published two books in Danish: Støjens æstetik (The Aesthetics of Noise) and Objektiv sensibilitet (Objective sensibility) as well as numerous articles in English, German, Swedish and Danish.

Read Torben Sangild’s article here.

Important note: This article contains integrated audio clips that will only be displayed, if the document is opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Pro. Other viewers such as Apple’s Image Viewer display the article with images, but not the integrated audio clips.

The Poverty of Musical Ontology

Peer-Reviewed Papers Posted on Aug 26, 2014 21:56:00

Aaron Ridley posed the question of whether results in the ontology of musical works would have implications for judgements about the interpretation, meaning or aesthetic value of musical works and performances. His arguments for the conclusion that the ontology of musical works have no aesthetic consequences are unsuccessful, but he is right in thinking (in opposition to Andrew Kania and others) that ontological judgements have no aesthetic consequences. The key to demonstrating this conclusion is the recognition that ontological judgments are a priori and aesthetic judgments are empirical. A priori judgements have no empirical consequences. Neither fundamental ontology of music nor higher- order ontological reflections have any aesthetic consequences.

The author, James O. Young is professor of Philosophy at the University of Victoria. He is the author of Global-anti-realism (1995), Art and Knowledge (2001), Cultural Appropriation and the Arts (2008) and more than 50 articles in refereed journals. His latest book, Critique of Pure Music, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Read James O. Young’s article here.