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Sound and Fury Signify Something

An examination of intramusical symbol

Samuel Protich

on 30 April 2010

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Transcript of Sound and Fury Signify Something

Sound and Fury Signify
and the
Musical Symbol By Sam Protich Prevailing Questions: How do human beings experience musical form, or (in a less pregnant phrase) music's temporal unfolding? Is melody the only way we
think of theme? Of the representative quality of
part of a musical whole? Of the “memorable” part of a piece,
the “tag” to stick on it? INTRAMUSICAL SYMBOL:
"Theme" Exceeds the Realm of Melody The concept of "theme" as a representative and recurring musical moment commonly applies, in the context of formal analysis, to melody alone. BUT that concept might be expanded into what I call the
an idea by which a musical "event-object" serves the listener as both an AURAL SIGNPOST and a MICROCOSMIC REPRESENTATION of a piece's character and structure. Melodic Theme and Metophoricity
Guck: melody as a "line" necessarily a metaphoric model taken from scores
The "theme" of a piece assumes that a fragment of melody both serves to connect diff. sections of music, and stands as an emblem of the piece as a whole.
This is a kind of MUSICAL SYMBOLISM! This pushes against the common usage of the expression "musical symbol," which assumes a reference to material outside the piece
ex. "madrigalism," "The Magic Flute" Melody and Rhetorical Analogy Heinrich Koch
Along with predecessors Joseph Riepel and Johann Kirnberger, posits a model of periodic melody that draws rhetorical analogy between "word/phrase/clause/sentence/etc." and "subphrase/phrase/period/etc."
18th-Century Fuguists
Conceive of subject, answer, etc. in the structure of discursive argument
Post-Beethovenian 19th-Cent. Symphonists
Often trace a "heroic narrative" in, for example, sonata allegro sections of expo./dev./recap. So...
Melody/theme typically thought of mechanically, or as comp. resources to be manipulated to various degrees of audible recognizability
References to language CONTENT typically reduced to a strictly linear sequence of events Symbol in Literature
Exists both within and outside of a story's temporal path (ex. Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" and its adulterous "A") Symbol in music, referring to other parts of the same piece of music? Thomas Clifton: Musical Phenomenology
"Two separate but related aspects of music: its objects and the human experience of its objects" (1)
Phenomenology as a "means... for uncovering and describing phenomena which are immanent in the composition and presented BY it" (ix)
So, musical object meaningful only insofar as it is perceived by listener Example 1: Haydn's "Sunrise" Quartet (Op. 76 no. 4), 2nd movement, mm 1-5 Order in Clifton
"constituted by the experiencing person" (4)
Order as the "musical experience which is identical with itself while unfolding in time" (5) Limitations to Clifton:
De-emphasizes formalist analysis as an "imposed" order, not a perceived one
Rejects melodic theme as element of listener's experience In musics that actually DO rely on periodically arranged repetitions of melody,
THEME can act as a musical symbol, heard repeatedly as an aural signpost

Moreover, formalist analysis can be a point of access to the theme's ability to microcosmically represent large-scale musical qualities

(Ex. Haydn's "Sunrise"Quartet, 2nd movement) Symbolic moments in non-periodic
(and even non-melodic!) musics

Crucial components of symbolic listening experience:
Object that is perceived
Object's larger symbolic reference
MOMENT OF SYMBOLIZATION (when object becomes symbol)

Ex. Ligeti's "Musica ricercata"
(2nd movement) and
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