Normative Judgment in Jazz: <i>A Semiotic Framework</i>

Kelly A. Parker

in The Normative Thought of Charles S. Peirce

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242443
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823250769 | DOI:

Series: American Philosophy (FUP)

Normative Judgment in Jazz: A Semiotic Framework

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This chapter draws on Charles S. Peirce's semiotics as a basis for understanding musical phenomena and indicating some advantages of a semiotic approach to musicology. It sketches a semiotic account of the musical work as a process of representation and interpretation, employing terminology from Peirce and from Jean-Jacques Nattiez's Music and Discourse. The semiotic framework is introduced by application to a “standard case” of Western art music (“classical” music), Chopin's “Revolutionary Étude,” to show how the musical work can be nearly identified with the score. This framework is then applied to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, a musical work that is particularly hard to reconcile with such a view. The application highlights the overlooked role of the energetic and logical interpretants of musical symbols, and suggests a semiotic basis for normative criticism of musical performances.

Keywords: semiotics; musicology; musical phenomena; representation; interpretation; Jean-Jacques Nattiez; classical music; musical symbols; John Coltrane

Chapter.  6749 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy

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