The Routledge Handbook of Music Signification: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Handbook of Music Signification

1st Edition

Edited by Esti Sheinberg, William Dougherty


336 pages | 76 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780815376453
pub: 2020-04-08
SAVE ~$49.00
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 8th April 2020

FREE Standard Shipping!


Examinations of music signification have been an essential component of thinking about music for millennia, but it is only in the last forty years that music signification has been established as an independent field of study. During this time, the field has grown exponentially. Initially formulated as "meaning in music," "emotion in music," or "musical semiotics," it now includes a vast array of approaches that seek to ground how music means and sometimes even to explore what it may mean. The Routledge Handbook of Music Signification captures the richness and complexity of the study of musical signification by offering essays by recognized international experts that reflect current thinking about issues shaping the field and apply this thinking to a wide variety of topics.

Given their strongly interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary tendencies, studies of musical signification typically embrace concepts and methodologies imported from semiotics, literary criticism, linguistics, the visual arts, philosophy, sociology, history, and psychology, among others. By bringing together such approaches in transparent groupings that reflect music’s social, political, historical, and ideational contexts, and by encouraging critical dialogue, this volume begins to impose some order on the variety and complexity of interdisciplinary incursions into musicological discourse. As such, it provides at once an authoritative survey of the discipline and a significant advance in music signification research.

Table of Contents


Esti Sheinberg and William P. Dougherty

  1. Music Signification and Philosophy

    1. "Musik ist das nicht": On Romantic Incomprehensibility in Chopin

      Jamie Liddle

    2. From Semio-ethics to a Semiotics of Speech in Music and Musicology: Theoretical (and Utopian) Projections

      Christine Esclapez

    3. Music and Reality

      Ben Curry

    4. From Ursatz to Urzemic: Avenues for Theories and Analyses of Music Signification

      Eero Tarasti

  1. Music Signification and Semiotics
    1. The Musical Signifier

      Lawrence Kramer

    2. Barthes’s The Grain of the Voice Revisited

      Anne Kauppala

    3. Britten and Stravinsky’s Neoclassical Opera: Signs, Signification, and Subjectivity

      Nicholas P. McKay

    4. Fundamental Concepts for the Semiotic Interpretation of Musical Meaning: A Personal Journey

      Robert Hatten

  2. Music Signification and Topic Theory

    1. Patterns and Topics as Elements of Signification in Late Eighteenth-Century Music

      Lauri Suurpää

    2. "Mad Day" and the "March of Bacchus": Figaro in Mahler’s Third Symphony

      Lóránt Péteri

    3. Topics and Stylistic Register in Russian Opera, 1775–1800

      Johanna Frymoyer

    4. She Spins and She Sighs: The Spinning-Wheel Topic and the Lamentation of the Romantic Female

      Chia-Yi Wu

    5. Charles Griffes’s Xanadu: A Musical Garden of Opposites

      Taylor A. Greer

  1. Music Signification and Narrative

    1. Music Narrative: Theory, Context, Subjectivity

      Byron Almén

    2. Motivic Linkage and Actantial Pairing in Britten’s Operas

      Michael Baker

    3. The Narrative Rhetoric of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

      Anatole Leikin

    4. From Music Signification to Musical Narrativity: Concepts and Analyses

      Márta Grabócz

  1. Music Signification and Society

    1. Musical Vernaculars and their Signifying Transformations

      Marina Ritzarev

    2. Multimodal Reinforcement and Worlds of Sense: A Political Approach to Musical Emotions

      Oscar Hernández-Salgar

    3. Reading Meaning In and Out of Music from Theresienstadt: The Case of Pavel Haas

      Martin Čurda

    4. FKA twigs and Popular Music Signification: The Challenge of Fluid Clarity

      William Echard

    5. Lost Innocence: Signifying East, Signifying West

      Edward Campbell

  1. Music Signification and Emotion, Cognition and Embodiment

    1. Four Flavors of Pre-Modern Emotion

      Michael Spitzer

    2. Music as Experience: Musical Sense-making between Step-by-Step Processing and Synoptic Overview

      Mark Reybrouck

    3. Melody as Representation

      David Lidov

  1. Music Signification and Education

    1. Musical Semiosis as a Process of Learning and Growth

      Juha Ojala

    2. A Pragmatic Map of Music Signification for Music Analysis Courses

      Joan Grimalt

  1. Music Signification and Intermediality

    1. The Operatic Principle: Negotiating Contradictory Demands of Signification

      Bálint Veres

    2. Pianto as a Topical Signifier of Grief in Contemporary Operas by John Adams, Thomas Adès, and Kaija Saariaho

      Yayoi Uno Everett

    3. Musical Ekphrasis: The Evolution of the Concept and the Breadth of its Application

      Siglind Bruhn

    4. Bibliography

About the Editors

Esti Sheinberg Published articles on music signification; Irony, Satire, Parody and the Grotesque in the Music of Shostakovich (Ashgate, 2000); edited Music Semiotics: A Network of Significations—in Honour and Memory of Raymond Monelle (Ashgate, 2012), and Anatoly Milka’s Bach’s Kunst der Fuge (Ashgate-Routledge, 2016).

William P. Dougherty Ellis and Nelle Levitt Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Drake University. Published numerous articles on music semiotics and the semiotics of the art song focusing on the vast amount of Mignon lieder that emanate from Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrejahre.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General