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Music as Multimodal Discourse: Semiotics, Power and Protest

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon McKerrell


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We communicate multimodally. Everyday communication involves not only words, but gestures, images, videos, sounds and of course, music. Music has traditionally been viewed as a separate object that we can isolate, discuss, perform and listen to. However, much of music's power lies in its use as multimodal communication. It is not just lyrics which lend songs their meaning, but images and musical sounds as well. The music industry, governments and artists have always relied on posters, films and album covers to enhance music's semiotic meaning. This book considers musical sound as multimodal communication, examining the interacting meaning potential of sonic aspects such as rhythm, instrumentation, pitch, tonality, melody and their interrelationships with text, image and other modes, drawing upon, and extending the conceptual territory of social semiotics. In so doing, this book brings together research from scholars to explore questions around how we communicate through musical discourse, and in the discourses of music. Methods in this collection are drawn from Critical Discourse Analysis, Social Semiotics and Music Studies to expose both the function and semiotic potential of the various modes used in songs and other musical texts. These analyses reveal how each mode works in various contexts from around the world often articulating counter-hegemonic and subversive discourses of identity and belonging. - See more at:

Publication metadata

Editor(s): Way L, McKerrell S

Series Editor(s): Paul Bouissac

Publication type: Edited Book

Publication status: Published

Series Title: Advances in Semiotics

Year: 2017

Number of Pages: 256

Print publication date: 26/01/2017

Acceptance date: 20/05/2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Place Published: London & New York


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781474264426


Link to this publication