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The Sonic Se(f

Musical Subjectivity
and Signification

'Naomi Cumming

Indiana University Press


Bloomington and Indianapolis
Royalties from the sale of this book go to the Naomi Helen Cumming
Foundation, a non-profit educational trust to encourage
young scholl!\-s in their pursuit of music studies.

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1 2000 by Tlu: N,1<l111i Helm C11111111i11g Foundation

Chapters 2 and 3 appeared previously in a different form as


"Musical Signs and Subjectivity: Peirccan Reflections."
Transactions of 1/1c Charles S. Peirce Society: /I Q11artcrly journal
i11 .fo1rric<111 flhilo,ophy 35(3), Summer 1999, 437-474.

All rights reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any


means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by
any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from
the publisher. The Association of American University Presses' Resolution on Per-
missions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.

The paper used in chis publication meets the minimum requirements of Amer-
ican National Standard for Information Scicncev= Pcrmancnce of
Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI z39-48-1984.

Design and composition by Julie Allred, I3. Williams & Associates


Music engraving by Evan Conlee, Con Brio Music Typesetting

Manufactured in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Cumming, Naomi.
The sonic self: musical subjectivity and signification / Naomi Cumming.
p. cm. - (Advances in semiotics)
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
ISBN 0-253-33754-2 (cl : alk. paper)-
0-253-21393-2 (pa: alk. paper)
lSBN
1. Music -Semiotics. 2. Music - Philosophy and aesthetics.
J. Musical analysis. I. Title. II. Series.
ML3845-C:86 2000
780'.1'4-dc21 00-040917
2 3 4 5 05 04 03 02 01 00
Contents

Toreword by David Lidov xiv

'Introduction

1. Musical Initiations
a. Discovering a Voice in Sound 2
b. Performance as Self-Formation 5
c. Does the Self Form the Sound, or
the Sound the Self, 7
2. Subjects and Subjectivity 9

3. A Philosophical Outlook 13
a. Pragmaticism r4
b. Semiotics: Music as a Play of Signs 16

/. Signs of Subjectivity 20

r. Physical Disciplines and Signs 20


a. Why Pay Attention to Performative Acts?
Action as Identity 21
b. Creating Music as a Sign 23
2. A Semiotic View of Musical Subjectivity 28

3. Expressive Individuation and Uncertainty 30


a. Soloists as Individuated 30
b. Musical Self-Knowledge and Formation through
Signs 32
c. An Actor's Divided I as Formed over
Signs 34
d. The Anxiety of Uncontrolled Signs 36
e. Performers and Critical Loi 38
f. Losing and Finding the Self Once More 41

Vil
,---.., Contents

2. Listmi11g Sulijnls and Semiotic '\l'orl<ls 43

J. The Unccrt.iinnes of Musical Signification 43

2. Intentionality and Metaphor 49

3. Subjects and First-Person Authority 52


a. Skeptical Questions 52
1. Intuition 52
11. Self-Consciousness 55
iii. Modes of Consciousness 57
iv. Introspection 59
v. Signs 60

b. Phenomenological Tools 61
c. Categories of Experience 64

4. Regaining an Interpretive "I" 69

~. : \111sim(Sip,11s 72

1. Signs and Objects 73


a. What Is the Object of Musical Semiosis? 73
b. Skepticism about Absent Objects.
and an Answer from Peirce 76

2. Questions and Typologies 80

a. Qualities. Singularities, Conventions 82


1. Qualisigns 83
ii. Lcgisigns and Singular Signs
(Types and Tokens) 84
b, Icons. Indices, Symbols 86
1. Icons 87
ii. Indices 89
iii. Symbols 93
c. Possibilities. Facts, Laws (Rhernes,
Diccnrs. Arguments) 95
1. The Third Set of Questions 95
11. Bringing the Three Sets of Questions
Together 97
111. How Can Musical Signs l.le "Taken", 100

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