Dissertation Abstract




A Social Semiotics Of Music


Denney, Martha Jane



Degree:  Ph.D.

Year: 2001

Pages:  206

Institution: Brandeis University; 0021

Advisor:  Richard J. Parmentier


Source:   DAI, 62, no. 02A (2001): p. 650

Standard No: ISBN: 0-493-14087-5


In this dissertation I examine existing work in the semiotics of music, with particular attention to cross-cultural applicability and relevance, and to the contribution of approaches using a framework based on the insights of philosopher C. S. Peirce. The difficulties of applying a semiotic approach to music are considered, as well as some recent promising approaches using certain fundamental concepts developed by Peirce. I use elements of these approaches to construct a social semiotic framework for the study of musical practice in social context, which I believe to be the most useful focus of semiotics, and of a Peircean approach in particular.

     I discuss the specific case of the semiotic frameworks surrounding primary music education in Britain, focusing on the textual field in which primary teachers receive messages about how music should be taught and what relationship it bears to human practice and experience. My premise is that the role played by texts, mediating between national and Institutional guidelines and ideologies and the lived experience of music and of education, is particularly revealing of the range of interpretive frameworks, and the tensions contained within them, that culturally-located individuals bring to bear on the experience of music within an educational context. It is also revealing of the ways in which culture works at a critical level to provide and maintain certain sets of frameworks against which contradictory positions must be understood. It is my conclusion that the textual messages, both explicit and metapragmatic, received by teachers at the primary level reinforce an understanding of music in which learning about music is distinguished from, and privileged over, learning to do music, with important consequences for teaching practice.




Accession No:     AAI3004954

Provider:        OCLC

Database:         Dissertations