Chapter

Beyond Words and Music

Lawrence Kramer

in Musical Meaning

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780520228245
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928329 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520228245.003.0004
Beyond Words and Music

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Songfulness is a fusion of vocal and musical utterance judged to be both pleasurable and suitable independent of verbal content. It is the positive quality of singing-in-itself: just singing. It is one of those aesthetic qualities that seem to invite immediate recognition even while they elude definition; its indefinability is part of its character. There is a sense of immediate intimate contact between the listener and the subject behind the voice. This contact is both an aesthetic relationship and an indication of the specific fantasy-structure that underlies the experience of songfulness. Another perspective on songfulness can be gained by considering the difference between instrumental and vocal realizations of the same melody. Songfulness may be considered the complement of what is elsewhere called overvocalization, “the purposeful effacement of text by voice” associated with “emotional and metaphysical extremes, blurrings of ego boundaries, and instability of identity.” Songfulness doesn't exactly constitute a resistance to or escape from the symbolic, but an interlude of imperviousness to it. Overvocalization is extraordinary, songfulness is a condition that shows no need of the extraordinary; it is the ideal ordinariness of song.

Keywords: songfulness; overvocalization; vocalization; Lacanian; Heidenröslein; verbal content; overvocalization

Chapter.  6888 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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