Metaphors and Models: Paths to Meaning in Music
Linsley, Dennis E.
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Linsley, Dennis E.
Music has meaning. But what is the nature and source of meaning, what tools can we use to illuminate meaning in musical analysis, and how can we relate aspects of musical structure to our embodied experience? This dissertation provides some possible answers to these questions by examining the role that metaphors and models play in creating musical meaning. By applying Mark Johnson and Steve Larson's conceptual metaphors for musical motion, Larson's theory of musical forces, perspectives on musical gesture, and a wide variety of models in music analysis, I show how meaning is constructed in selected works by Bach and Schubert. My approach focuses on our experience of musical motion as a source of expressive meaning. The analysis of two gigue subjects by Bach shows how we create expressive meaning by mapping musical gestures onto physical gestures, and five detailed case studies from Schubert's Winterreise show how the same basic underlying pulse leads to different expressive meanings based on how that pulse maps onto walking motion. One thread that runs through this dissertation is that models play a significant role in creating meaning; this idea is central to my analysis of the prelude from Bach's fourth cello suite. Questions of meaning are not new to musical discourse; however, claims about meaning often lurk below the surface in many musical analyses. I aim to make the discussion of meaning explicit by laying bare the mechanisms by which meaning is enacted when we engage with music. The view of musical meaning adopted in this study is based on several complementary ideas about meaning in general: meaning is something our minds create, meaning is not fixed, meaning is synonymous with understanding, and meaning emerges from our embodied experience. Other scholars who address musical meaning (for example, Hatten and Larson) typically adopt a singular approach. Although I do not create a new theory of meaning, I employ numerous converging viewpoints. By using a multi-faceted approach, we are able to choose the best available tools to discuss aspects of our musical experience and relate the expressive meaning of that experience to details of musical structure.