Klett-Cotta-Verlag Psychology

Index und Ikon, Metapher und Metonymie in der Musik

Januar 2018, 22. Jahrgang, Heft 85, pp 45-66

Index and icon, metaphor and metonym in music – In this paper, it is argued that the widespread attempts to use notions taken from semiotics, linguistics or literary theory – such as symbol, index, iconic sign, metaphor and metonym – to analyze the meanings of music are most often misguided. Index in particular – contrary to popular belief – does not occur in music. Of all the notions considered here – metaphor and metonym, index and icon – only the last may be applied to music in any essential way. That does not mean, however, that all musical meanings are so uniform in character. On the contrary: they are highly diverse, but notions mechanically imported from other fields are not suited to describing that diversity. The paper concludes with the suggestion that in order to produce such a description, one must endeavour to construct specifically musical distinctions and categorizations of meanings.

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