The Sonic Self

Overview

"Semioticians began by looking at literature but have gradually applied their techniques to other disciplines, including music. The late Naomi Cumming... based this consideration of the sources of musical expression on her experiences as a performer—with interesting, if rarely surprising, results." —Choice

Using classical violin music as her principal laboratory, the author examines how a performance incorporates distinctive features not only of the work, but of the performer as well—and how the listener goes ...

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Overview

"Semioticians began by looking at literature but have gradually applied their techniques to other disciplines, including music. The late Naomi Cumming... based this consideration of the sources of musical expression on her experiences as a performer—with interesting, if rarely surprising, results." —Choice

Using classical violin music as her principal laboratory, the author examines how a performance incorporates distinctive features not only of the work, but of the performer as well—and how the listener goes about interpreting not only the composer's work and the performer's rendering of the work, but also of the performer's and listener's identities. A richly interdisciplinary approach to a very common, yet persistently mysterious, part of our lives.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Semioticians began by looking at literature but have gradually applied their techniques to other disciplines, including music. The late Naomi Cumming, violinist and music theorist, based this consideration of the sources of musical expression on her experiences as a performer—with interesting, if rarely surprising, results. Cumming argues from the musical score and from the physical attributes of the performer toward a theory of musical analysis relying on C.S. Peirce's groundbreaking philosophy. It is worth noting, as musical theorists generally do not, that there is no such thing as analysis in music. There is only interpretation, because alternative conclusions about even the simplest music are inherent in its study. Total agreement concerning the meaning of any music is impossible. Although Cumming's arguments are on the whole reasonable, toward the end she veers off into a defense of some of the new musicology's more preposterous practitioners. Although the world of contemporary humanities scholarship is highly contentious, her book would have been better without the polemic. With appendix and notes, this volume is for upper—division undergraduates through professionals.F. Goossen, emeritus, University of Alabama, Choice, September 2001

— F. Goossen, emeritus, University of Alabama

Choice - F. Goossen
Semioticians began by looking at literature but have gradually applied their techniques to other disciplines, including music. The late Naomi Cumming, violinist and music theorist, based this consideration of the sources of musical expression on her experiences as a performer—with interesting, if rarely surprising, results. Cumming argues from the musical score and from the physical attributes of the performer toward a theory of musical analysis relying on C.S. Peirce's groundbreaking philosophy. It is worth noting, as musical theorists generally do not, that there is no such thing as analysis in music. There is only interpretation, because alternative conclusions about even the simplest music are inherent in its study. Total agreement concerning the meaning of any music is impossible. Although Cumming's arguments are on the whole reasonable, toward the end she veers off into a defense of some of the new musicology's more preposterous practitioners. Although the world of contemporary humanities scholarship is highly contentious, her book would have been better without the polemic. With appendix and notes, this volume is for upper—division undergraduates through professionals.F. Goossen, emeritus, University of Alabama, Choice, September 2001
From the Publisher
Semioticians began by looking at literature but have gradually applied their techniques to other disciplines, including music. The late Naomi Cumming, violinist and music theorist, based this consideration of the sources of musical expression on her experiences as a performer—with interesting, if rarely surprising, results. Cumming argues from the musical score and from the physical attributes of the performer toward a theory of musical analysis relying on C.S. Peirce's groundbreaking philosophy. It is worth noting, as musical theorists generally do not, that there is no such thing as analysis in music. There is only interpretation, because alternative conclusions about even the simplest music are inherent in its study. Total agreement concerning the meaning of any music is impossible. Although Cumming's arguments are on the whole reasonable, toward the end she veers off into a defense of some of the new musicology's more preposterous practitioners. Although the world of contemporary humanities scholarship is highly contentious, her book would have been better without the polemic. With appendix and notes, this volume is for upper—division undergraduates through professionals.

—F. Goossen, emeritus, University of Alabama "Choice" (01/01/2001)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253337542
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Series: Advances in Semiotics Series
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 0.88 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 6.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Naomi Cumming was a fine violinist and music theorist. She published a host of journal articles and lectured internationally on the philosophy, psychology, and semiotics of music; her article on musical semiotics will appear in the Revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. She was a Fulbright fellow at Columbia University, a research fellow in music theory at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Melbourne, and recipient of an award from the Society for Music Theory in 1998.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Introduction
Musical Initiations
Subjects and Subjectivity
A Philosophical Outlook
1. Signs of Subjectivity
Physical Disciplines and Signs
A Semiotic View of Musical Subjectivity
Expressive Individuation and Uncertainty
2. Listening Subjects and Semiotic Worlds
The Uncertainties of Musical Signification
Interntionality and Metaphor
Subjects and First-person Authority
Regaining an Interpretive "I"
3. Musical Signs
Signs and Objects
Questions and Typologies
4. Naming Qualities; Hearing Signs
Qualities and Qualities-as-Signs
Disciplinary Boundaries: How Does Semiotics Relate to Psychology?
5. Gesturing
Gesture as Performance and Convention
To Perform or to Dissimulate?
Voice and Gesture as Virtualities
6. Framing Willfulness in Tonal Law
Theorists: Giving Roles to Rules
The Dialectics of Tonal Semiosis
7. Complex Syntheses
Expressive Complexity and Musical "Personae"
Modes of Synthesis
8. Culturally Embedded Signs
Emergent Qualities
Skeptical Issues
9. Values and Personal Categories
Sounds and Sensuality
Encounters
Rehabilitating the Subject
Appendix: Theorizing Generals
Real or Nominal Rules?
Finding Constancies, Explaining What One Hears, or Seeking Enlightenment?

Indiana University Press

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