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Semiotic Analysis:. A Research Guide Presented by Megan Henley, Michelle Keddy, Benjamin Kinsman, Michelle Muggridge and Karen Shields. Introduction. Although the earliest origins of semiotics can be traced back to Aristotle and Augustine, it didn’t begin to be fully developed

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Semiotic analysis

Semiotic Analysis:

A Research Guide

Presented by Megan Henley, Michelle Keddy, Benjamin Kinsman, Michelle Muggridge and Karen Shields.


Introduction

Introduction

Although the earliest origins of semiotics can be traced back to

Aristotle and Augustine, it didn’t begin to be fully developed

until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Semiotics is a broad topic which can be applied to many different

fields, including media studies, theatre and music. Musical

semiotics is a complex and relatively new topic; consequently

materials explaining musical semiotics were very difficult to find

in our library. Thus, the following presentation will not explain

musical semiotics, but will show how one might further research

this topic.


Semiotics

Semiotics

Basically, semiotics is the study of signs and their meanings!

Signs include words, gestures, images, sounds, and objects.

According to Ferdinand de Saussure, a founder of modern

semiotics,sign consists of two parts: the signifier (the form

which the sign takes) and the signified (the concept represents).


Semiotics1

Semiotics

For example, an everyday example is a stop sign. In this

example, the physical sign is the signifier. The concept of

stopping is the signified.

=the signifier

STOP!!!

=the signified


Semiotics2

Semiotics

However, signfiers can have multiple signifieds. Take the color

red for example:

APPLE

RED

FIRE

Love

Blood


Problems with semiotics

Problems with Semiotics

“Semiotics is essentially a theoretical approach to communication

in that its aim is to establish widely applicable principles…It is

thus vulnerable to the criticism that it is too theoretical, too

speculative and that semioticians make no attempt to prove or

disprove their theories in an objective, scientific way.” (Fiske

1982, 118)

“A musical phrase or even a tone has, as any musician...knows,

many possible kinds of signification and significance -- i.e.

‘meaning’.” (Coker 1972, 2)


Semiotic terms

Semiotic Terms

  • Semantics: the relations of signs to their contexts and to what they signify.

  • Syntactics: the kinds of signs, their ordering, and their relations to one another.

  • Pragmatics: the ways in which signs are used and interpreted.


The semiotic square

The Semiotic Square

  • Opposites give each other meaning. For example, black & white, love & hate.

  • Binary Opposition: One signifier (A) vs. another signifier (B) For example, good guy vs. bad guy, tonality vs. modality.

  • Semiotic Square: A visual representation of the logical articulations of any semantic category.


Semiotic square

Semiotic Square

  • The semiotic square diagrams the ways in which, starting from any given term, a complete meaning system can be derived through exhaustion of logical possibilities. This is accomplished by developing the traditional logical concepts of contradictory (diagonal arrows) and contrary (horizontal arrow)


The semiotic square1

The Semiotic Square

opposite

S1

S2

Past

Future

S2

Present

S1

Atemporality

Mediates between

S1 and S2

Negates both S1 and S2


A musical example

A Musical Example

vouloir être

vouloir faire

Actor D

Actor A

Actor C

Actor B

vouloir non-faire

vouloir non-être


Historical context

Historical Context

Musical Semiotics is essentially a new concept of musical

analysis and is very subjective. Although it can be applied to all

forms of music, it is best used on chance and program music.


Websites

Websites

http://www.hum.aau.dk/semiotics/

University of Aarhus Center for Semiotics Homepage

http://www.aber.ac.uk/~dgc/semind.html

Semiotics for Beginners

http://boethius.music.ucsb.edu/mto/mtohome.html

Music Theory Online (go to All Issues, then, Search the

Database, then Order Form, select search type and enter

semiotics to get a list of articles on musical semiotics.)

http://www.epas.utoronto.ca:8080/french/as-sa/EngSem1.html

Sites of Significance for Semiotics.


Websites1

Websites

http://www.chass.utoronto.ca:8080/french/as-sa/ASSA-No4/

index.htmSemiotics of Music, presented by Eero Tarasti

http://www.chass.utoronto.ca:8080/epc/srb/cyber/cyber.html

Cyber Semiotic Institute.

http://the-duke.duq-duke.duq.edu/notes/viz4/intro.htm

What is Semiotics?

http://www.letsdeviant.com/semioticslink.html

Semiotics Links

http://www.sla.purdue.edu/semiotics

The American Journal of Semiotics


Websites2

Websites

http://www.cudenver.edu/~mryder/itc_data/semiotics.html

Semiotics - University of Colorado and Denver

http://www.azstarnet.com/~solo/ Solomon's Music Theory &

Composition Resources

http://www.lib.monash.edu.au/arts/music/semimusi.htm

Bibliographic sources

http://www.er.uqam.ca/nobel/rssi/rssihe.html

Canadian Semiotic Association


Website

Website

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/department/fad/fi/woodrow/

semiotic.htm

Semiotic Analysis of Images.


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