Metaphors and similes

Alf Gabrielsson

in Strong Experiences with Music

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199695225
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729775 | DOI:
Metaphors and similes

Show Summary Details


It has often been said — by musicians, philosophers, writers, and others — that words do not suffice to describe how one experiences music, music goes beyond words, ‘music starts where words come to an end’. That notion is also found among many of this book's narrators. They say that they can't find words that cover what they have experienced; the experience is — or certain parts of it are — indescribable. One possibility is to make use of metaphors or similes, that is, one refers to other phenomena that in some way are similar to or mirror what one experiences. About 100 narrators (approximately 10% of the participants) have made use of metaphors or similes. Most of these cases are reproduced here in the form of short quotes from the accounts concerned. They are, thus, taken out of their context, but there is a reference to the corresponding complete account. This chapter begins with metaphors and similes with regard to the actual music or performance; then metaphors and similes that concern experiences in connection with listening; performance and composition. Finally, there is a summary of the phenomena that have occurred in the metaphors and similes.

Keywords: strong experiences with music; musical performance; musical experience; descriptions; metaphor; simile

Chapter.  6990 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.