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Musical and Linguistic Speech Acts

Haydn's String Quartet in E-flat, op. 33, no. 2, while Bonds rightly describes what is anom-
ends with a musical joke, giving it its familiar alous aboutthis ending, he does not explain the
nickname: source of its humor. Why is this ending funny?
m. 153 For the fact that there is an unexpected adagio,
followed by a rhythmically fragmented repe-
tition of the opening theme, and then the open-
ing two measuresyet again, mightjust as easily
P~~~~~~~~~GP be regarded as a compositional flaw, or per-
haps even as a printing error,ratherthan as a
In this paper I hope to show not only that a
1 161
speech act analysis of Haydn'squartetcan allow
GP. G.P.
us a betterunderstandingof how its joke works,
but also that such an analysis is essential if we
wish to understandwhy the ending is funny. In-
deed, it is precisely by focusing on a particular
level of analysis-the speech act-and by ig-
noring other potential parallels (real or imag-
1I66 ( N . 172
ined) between musical and linguistic structure
thatsignificantrelationshipsbetweenmusic and
languagemay become apparent.
But I have a largerpurposehere as well. For
I want to startby arguingthat, as a resultof our
enculturatedbelief that music is a kind of lan-
guage, we can and often do treatmusic as a lin-
Why is this ending funny? What makes it a guistic phenomenon. That is, we acquire our
"Joke"? Bonds correctly and concisely notes mechanisms for dealing with intentional com-
that in this ending: municativebehaviorthroughour acquisitionof
a linguistic framework. Languagebecomes the
Haydn violates the conventionsof musical closure in prototypical framework for dealing with all
such a way that only the initiated listener can be cer- other kinds of meaningful communicative be-
tain at just what moment the piece actually ends.... havior which we encounter. I will explore the
What had first functioned as an opening antecedent roots of this frameworkin the next section of
phrase now serves as the final cadence of the work, this paper, where, drawing upon the work of
and the rhythmicplay on the conventions of closure Lakoff, Johnson,and Turner,I propose that we
makes the listener all the more conscious of those often employ a MUSIC IS LANGUAGE metaphorin
very conventions.I our understandingof music.2If this metaphoris
present, it then follows that we have good rea-
Yet something is missing from this account. For sons for treating a composer and his or her
The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism54:1 Winter 1996
50 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism

works in the same fashion as we treata speaker cent work in the philosophy of language and
and his or her utterances. metaphor has challenged the traditional model.
As Lakoff and Johnson have noted:

Metaphoris for most people a device of the poetic

In claiming that music and language are meta- imaginationand the rhetoricalflourish-a matterof
phorically related, I am not using a traditional extraordinaryratherthan ordinary language. More-
definition/conceptionof metaphor.Johnsonsum- over,metaphoris typicallyviewed as characteristicof
marizesthe traditionalapproachto metaphoras languagealone, a matterof wordsratherthanthought
follows: or action. For this reason,most people thinkthey can
get along perfectly well without metaphor. We have
A metaphoris an elliptical simile used for stylistic, found, on the contrary,that metaphoris pervasive in
rhetorical,and didactic purposes, but which can be everydaylife, not just in language,but in thoughtand
translatedinto a literalparaphrasewithoutany loss of action. Ourordinaryconceptualsystem, in terms of
cognitive content.3 which we both think and act, is fundamentally
metaphoricalin nature.6
and later,more precisely:
According to Lakoff and Johnson, metaphors do
(1) The human conceptual system is essentially lit- much more than point out hidden or fanciful
eral-literal language ("words proper') is the pre-existing similarities between, for example,
only adequate vehicle for (a) expressing one's music and language. At the heart of this theory
meaning precisely, and (b) making truth claims, of metaphor is the thesis that metaphor is not
which together make possible correct reasoning merely linguistic, but rather a basic aspect of
by the philosopher. human thought. Linguistic metaphors are a re-
(2) Metaphoris a deviant use of words in other than flection of our innate propensity for metaphori-
their proper senses, which accounts for its ten- cal understanding. Lakoff and Johnson, through
dency to confuse and deceive. copious examples, show how metaphors are not
(3) The meaning and truth claims of a metaphor(if extraordinary in language, but rather are part
there are any) are just those of its literal para- and parcel of ordinary usage. The words we use,
phrase.4 even in ordinary discourse, are usually linked to
larger, overarching metaphors which structure
Thus, accordingto the traditionalmodel, meta- our understanding of the topic in question.
phors are essentially abbreviated similes and Lakoff and Johnson ask us to consider the fol-
hence represent a special use of language, lowing examples:
though they often become conventionalized.5
While metaphorsoften hinge upon similarities Yourclaims are indefensible.
between the entities which are being metaphor- He attackedevery weakpoint in my argument.
ically connected, metaphorsdo not make these His criticismswere righton target.
connections. Rather, they merely reflect the I demolishedhis argument.7
structural similarities which already exist in
theirreferents. So, for example, one often finds These examples are instances of a larger
that there are striking similarities between the metaphor, the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor (x is
pattern of voices in a conversation-their rhy- Y [all in capitals] is Lakoff and Johnson's nota-
thm, turn taking, interjections and non se- tion for metaphors, and I will use it here as
quiturs,and so forth-and the dispositionof the well). In our culture this metaphor informs and
instrumentalparts in classical chambermusic. underlies our understanding of arguments as
Nonetheless, these striking similarities do not well as the way we behave when we participate
then requirethat we understandthe music as a in an argument. Lakoff and Johnson go on to
conversation-just as if we say that a cloud note that:
looks like a horse, we do not then, on the basis
of this similarity,believe thatthe cloud is a horse. It is importantto see that we don't just talk aboutar-
However,not all metaphorsare alike, and re- gumentsin termsof war. We can actuallywin or lose
London Musical and LinguisticSpeechActs 51

arguments.Wesee thepersonwe arearguingwithas It is in this sense that the MUSIC IS LANGUAGE

an opponent.Weattackhis positionsanddefendour metaphoris one we live by in this culture;it struc-
own. ... Though there is no physical battle, there is a turesthe actions we performin listening."12
verbalbattle,andthe structureof an argument-at-
etc.-reflects this. It is And considering that we usually acquire the
in this sensethattheARGUMENT IS WAR metaphoris MUSIC IS LANGUAGE frameworkin our musical
onewe liveby in thisculture;it structures
theactions childhood, it is well entrenchedand hence quite
we performin arguing.8 powerful. Since the MUSIC IS LANGUAGE frame-
work is so well establishedin our musical train-
ARGUMENT IS WAR functions as a cognitive ing and the language we use to describemusic,
framework for the understanding of certain it becomes wholly transparent-for many lis-
kinds of linguistic exchanges. Once we start teners music becomes a subclass of linguistic
using this framework it subsequently has the phenomena. Conversely,to be able to describe
ability to influence our understandingof the musical structure in nonlinguistic terms is
structuralelements of a conversation-certain deemed a mark of musical (and not to mention
moves are attacks, others are retreats, and so musicological) erudition and sophistication.
forth. ARGUMENT IS WAR plays what Johnson The musicologist,though,is not free from meta-
calls a "constitutiverole in the structuringof our phor, as other frameworksfor musical analysis
experience."9 and criticismthat are profferedcan also be con-
Considerthen the following rathertypical de- struedas constitutivemetaphors:MUSIC IS TONAL
Theprincipalthemeis statedby thefirstviolins. and so forth. These otherframeworksare rarely
Thebassesrejectthemotiveprofferedby thecellos. seen in metaphoricterms. Instead, we feel that
The flute answers the questioningoboe. we have moved towarda truer(if not a perfectly
true) account of musical structure,one which
These sentences were not culled from program goes beyond linguistic analogy.
notes (though they easily could have been) but In orderto accountfor the transparencyof the
were constructed using terms from a list of MUSIC IS LANGUAGE metaphor,it is worth ex-
speech act categories given by Bach and Har- amining the structureof metaphoricalmapping
nish.10 Kivy similarly remarksthat we have a in general and the mapping from language to
naturaltendency to "animate"musical sounds music in particular.First, as Lakoff and Turner
as humangestures.1I1 Tellingly,most of Kivy's have noted, "a metaphorwith the name A IS B iS
examples of animation are linguistic gestures: a mappingof partof the structureof our knowl-
questions, answers, singing voices, speaking, edge of the sourcedomain B onto targetdomain
and so forth. Why are we so ready to describe A."13 Thus, in the MUSIC IS LANGUAGE meta-
musical structures in terms of language and phor, language is the source-we take our
linguistic behavior?The descriptionsof music knowledge structureof language-and map it
given above are remarkablylike the sentences onto a musical target (e.g., a particularchord,
proffered by Lakoff and Johnson in their pre- motive, phrase,etc.). Thereis a particularstruc-
sentation of the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor. ture to this mappingin the case of the MUSIC IS
Thus I would claim that, in a profoundlysimilar LANGUAGE metaphorbecause it is in the class of
way, a MUSIC IS LANGUAGE metaphorstructures what Lakoff and Turnercall a "basicconceptual
the actions we perform in listening. To para- metaphor,"a category of metaphors that "are
phraseLakoff and Johnson,it is not thatwe hear partof the commonconceptualapparatusshared
"aflute phrasefollowed by an oboe phrase,"but by members of a culture."14Basic metaphors
ratherthat we "really hear the oboe answering are used conventionally, unconsciously, auto-
the flute." To extend the paraphrase: matically, and usually without notice. Not all
basic metaphorsare alike, however. Lakoff and
"Wedon'tjusttalkaboutmusicalgesturesin termsof Turner illustrate the differences between two
linguisticspeechacts. Rather,we can actuallyhear kinds of basic metaphors with their examples
thesegesturesas greetings,questions,jokes,answers. EVENTS ARE ACTIONS and LIFE IS A JOURNEY:
52 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism

In a metaphorlike LIFE IS A JOURNEY there is a desig- scribesthe end of a piece of music as a "perora-
nated ontological mapping: a certain list of slots in tion," one is creatinga sense of musical "topic"
the JOURNEY schema maps in exactly one way onto a (and a summation thereof), which, given that
correspondinglist of slots in the LIFE schema (e.g., music lacks the ability to predicateor refer,can-
DESTINATIONS correspondto LIFE GOALS). But in the not be said to come from the music itself. Sim-
EVENTS ARE ACTIONS metaphor,the mappingconsists ilarly, more generalpropertiesin the source do-
not in a list of fixed correspondences,but ratherin main often are mapped onto properties in the
higher-order constraints on what is an appropriate target domain. For example, in language one
mapping and what is not. ... We will refer to meta- may use the term "voice" to refer to those fea-
phors like EVENTS ARE ACTIONS as "generic-level tures which distinguish one speaker from an-
metaphors"since they lack specificity in two respects: other ("I could recognize her voice"), and then
they do not havefixed sourceand targetdomains,and use the same term in a musical context to de-
they do not have fixed lists of entriesspecified in the scribe a composer who creates his or her own
mapping. We will refer to metaphorslike LIFE IS A idiosyncratic style or idiom (as in "Beethoven
JOURNEY as "specific-levelmetaphors"since they are found his own voice in his op. 18 quartets").17
specified in these two ways. We will continueto refer One final caution regardingmappingfrom lan-
to conventionalizedspecific-level metaphorsas "basic guage onto music: metaphoricalmappings are
metaphors"when we are not interestedin contrasting not complete, and thus we should not expect
themwith generic-levelmetaphors.15 every aspect of language to map onto every as-
pect of music. Rather,many aspects of each re-
The MUSIC IS LANGUAGE metaphor is not main outside the domain of the metaphor.
generic, but is another example of a specific- Metaphoricalmapping has a great power to
level metaphor which has fixed aspects between structureour knowledge and understandingof
its source and target domains. 16 Here is a list of one thing in terms of another-or rather,of one
some of the ways in which slots in the LAN- thing as another. For the MUSIC IS LANGUAGE
GUAGE schema map onto corresponding slots in metaphorthis mappingis especially useful in at
the MUSIC schema: least two respects. First, it allows us "to borrow
patternsof inferencefrom the source domain to
LANGUAGE onto MUSIC use in reasoning about the target domain."'8
SPEAKERS COMPOSERS Thus we can, for example, regardcontrapuntal
HEARERS LISTENERS/AUDIENCE alternationsbetween instrumentsas analogs to
UTTERANCES MELODIES turn-takingin conversationor argument,musi-
(notes, chords, motives) cal discontinuitiesas parenthesis,and so forth.
(extendeddiscourse) (i.e., large musical structures) ate musical gestures as we would linguistic ut-
terances;a specific instance of this is discussed
below where anomalous musical structuresare
And more specifically: consideredas a species of Griceanflouting. If
the MUSIC IS LANGUAGE metaphoris present,we
CONVERSATION PARTS IN A CLASSICAL may then assume that listeners, to the best of
STRING QUARTET their abilities, will regard musical structures
DEBATE CONCERTO as compositional utterances made by a com-
(rhetoricalcontest) (soloist vs. orchestra) poser/speakerand employ the same discursive
strategiesin musical as they would in linguistic
Of course, there are some nonspecific aspects to contexts in order to recover the composer's in-
this mapping as well. For example, while in tent in choosing a particularmusical gesture in
some cases the mapping consists of correspon- a particularmusical context.
dences between "slots" which exist indepen-
dently in each domain (for example, the com- II
POSERS ARE SPEAKERS metaphor), in other cases
the target slot is wholly or partially created in Let us now returnto the compositional choices
the process of map-making. Thus, when one de- Haydnmade at the end of his quartet,and what
London Musical and LinguisticSpeechActs 53

allows us to regard them as a joke. An account

of the ending of op. 33, no. 2 cast only in terms
of its nonconformance to conventions of me-
lodic, harmonic, and formal closure will not re-
veal the source of its humor, nor the means by
which the listener is able to recognize it as hu-
morous. To recognize in what sense the ending
14 r
is conventionally anomalous is important and
necessary. But it is only the first step toward an This, of course, does not happen, but example
analysis of the joke. Here is a fuller account of two does help to explain the formal function of
the ending and of the musical context in which the adagio:it sets up the dismemberedpresenta-
it occurs: tion of the main theme and final "!". Example
two also shows us that the real joke lies in the
1. The movement conforms to the conventions of a last two measures.
rondo finale until m. 148. Indeed, listeners with a Following the stutteringpresentationof the
knowledge of the typical ABACArondo scriptmay rondo theme we have a wholly implausiblepre-
well recognize m. 140 as a potential "beginningof sentation of mm. 1-2. Yet we do not write off
the end" for the movement; that is, having heard these measuresas a mistake on the partof either
the previousA, B, A, and C sections, we anticipate Haydn or the performers. Instead, we believe
another A section (though perhaps with some al- that Haydn composed the end of the quartet,
terationsto create a greatersense of overallfinality with its dismemberedtheme of mm. 153-166
and closure).19 (which correspond to mm. 29-36) and repeat
2. Ratherthan continuing with a well-formed A sec- of mm. 1-2, with some aesthetic purpose in
tion (one which would roughly parallel mm. 1-36 mind-and thus we will try to make sense of
or mm. 72-107), we get the following: the seeming nonsense of Haydn'sending. Fur-
a) An adagio "insert"startingat m. 149, which in thermore,we believe that Haydn himself knew
some sense replacesmm. 9-28; that his listeners would try to do so, and we be-
b) A fragmented repeat of the opening theme, lieve thathe gives us creditfor our abilityto find
parallelto mm. 29-36 (at mm. 153-156); meaning and coherencein his music.20
c) - PAUSE- (mm. 167-170), and then, sud- We can find meaning and coherence in the
denly, mm. 1-2 (!). closing bars of the quartetin the following way.
The stutteringpresentationof the theme (in con-
It should be pointed out that the anomaly does trastto the continuouspresentationof the same
not stem from the adagio passage, but rather materialat mm. 29-36 and analogouspassages)
from what follows it. For notice how the fol- arreststhe rhythmicmomentumof movement;if
lowing ending, composed by the author, could the adagio passage was the musical equivalent
have brought the movement to a predictable and of slammingon the brakes,mm. 153-166 are a
satisfactory close following the adagio: few final taps of the brakepedal which bringthe
slowing quartet to a stop. The discontinuous
manner of thematic presentationhere serves a
larger formal function, for as a result of the
rhythmicfragmentation,thereis a clear sense of
arrivalat m. 166 (note how m. 166 is a variantof
. A..tIz P G.t~^7 P.P~ 1I~ m. 36 in the original presentationof the rondo
theme, a variant with strongercadential struc-
ture). Measures 171-172 are the exclamation
point to this arrival-and these measures are
the realjoke. For Haydnrealizes that following
the adagio and fragmentationwe need some sort
of closural confirmation,some additionalmark
of rhythmic punctuation. But rather than an
echo of mm. 165-166, as in example two
54 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism

(which would be the most conventionaland pre- as speakers,we are unencumberedin pondering
dictable sort of confirmation),we get mm. 1-2. Haydn's meaning in using a beginning motive
And so we are forced to recognize the latentca- as an ending cadence. MUSIC IS LANGUAGE al-
dential potential of this gesture: lows us, withouthesitation,to treatHaydn'send-
ing as an illocutionaryact, and by treatingit as
v 1in
an illocutionary act, we are able both to make
sense of the ending and to get Haydn'sjoke.21 I
2nd vin, via hasten to add that what I am not saying here is
that we are justified in employing our knowl-
edge of speech acts wheneverwe encounterpur-
poseful behavior of any sort. Nor do I wish to
imply that artistic intentionsare wholly, or even
primarily,communicative;composerswrite mu-
sic for all sorts of reasons (e.g., treatinga piece
In example three the notes circled in the melody as an instance of compositional problem-solv-
are the structuralbackboneof the melody, a de- ing, or as a play with favoritenumbersor notes,
scent which goes "mi-re-do."This descent, cou- or as an attemptto create a near-as-possible-to-
pled with the I-V-Iharmonizationunderneath,is perfect sonata form, and so forth). What I am
a common cadential pattern-indeed, the ar- saying is that cultural artifacts (like pieces of
rivalon "do"in the melody coupled with the mo- music) are at least in some sense a manifestation
tion from V-I in the bass creates what is referred of meaningful public behavior on the part of
to in music-theory nomenclatureas a "perfect their composers. As such, listenersarejustified
authenticcadence." However,we do not regard in approachinga musical structureas productof
this as a cadence at the beginning of the piece this behavior,as the carrierof "some meaning"
for two reasons, (a) it occurs too early in the between them and its composer.
phrase-not every V-I motion coupled with "re-
do" creates a cadence, after all, and more im- III
portantly,(b) the "structural" melodic descent is
obscured by the ornamentationwhich reaches In How To Do Things With WordsJ. L. Austin
upward, creating a sense of beginning rather develops the thesis that languageis not just used
thanending. But at the end of the quartetHaydn for the exchange of information, but rather-
forces us to attend to the structural descent and perhapsprimarily-that languageis used as
which underliesthe surfaceornamentation. the modus operandiof social interaction.22 In
The crux of the matteris our realizationthat describing and analyzing this process, Austin
at the end of this quartetHaydndoes not simply considersthree aspects of each speech act: locu-
"mean what he says," for that would be "hereis tion, allocution, and perlocution. An example
the beginning again," which would be musical will make these threeaspects clear.SupposeI go
nonsense. The problemcreatedby this musical into a record shop and ask the proprietor"How
non sequituris twofold, for (a) we have to admit much is that recordingof Haydn's 'Joke' Quar-
that Haydn means somethingby concluding the tet thatis displayedin the window?"Heremy lo-
quartetin this fashion, and (b) having admitted cutionaryact is the utteranceof a question,which
this, we then need a means of figuring out what involves the productionof a set of phonemes in
his meaning might be. The situation we have a particularlanguage, with a particularsyntac-
here at the end of this quartetis precisely analo- tic arrangement,such that the utteranceis rec-
gous to a situation in which a speaker does not ognized as a question. Here my utterancehas
literally mean what he says in a certain context, both the semantic (the "How much" marker)
and thus the hearer is forced to pursue the and phonologicalform (spoken with rising into-
speaker'smeaning (or at least a possible/plausi- nation) of a question. In hearing this locution,
ble meaning) in orderto make sense of the situ- and inferringfrom my very presencein the shop
ation. Given the presence of the MUSIC IS LAN- that I am a potential customer, the proprietor
GUAGE metaphor,however, we are readily able recognizes that my illocutionaryact is a request
to do so. That is, because we think of composers for information. My perlocutionaryact is to af-
London Musical and LinguisticSpeechActs 55

fect the proprietorby making this request, and sical gestures and linguistic illocutions under
so in her desire to sell me the recording(as well the MUSIC IS LANGUAGE metaphor.
as to keep my esteem as a potentialand/orfuture To demonstratethis separabilitySearle gives
customer)the proprietorresponds,perlocution- a particularlyelegant (and oft-cited) exampleof
arily,with the price of the CD. That is, after the a complex speech act:
proprietorrecognizes my illocutionary intent,
(i.e., what is sometimes called illocutionaryup- Suppose that I am an Americansoldier in the Second
take), she then producesa linguistic response- WorldWarand that I am capturedby Italian troops.
though this perlocutionaryeffect could also be And suppose also thatI wish to get these troopsto be-
some otherbehavioralresponse(i.e., pointing to lieve that I am a Germansoldier in orderto get them
a sign with the priceof the CD, shakingher head to release me. ... So I, as it were, attemptto put on a
as if to indicate that the CD is not for sale, and show of telling them that I am a German soldier by
so forth). reciting those few bits of German I know, trusting
Asking a question in the manner described that they don't know enough Germanto see through
above is an example of a direct speech act- my plan. Let us suppose I know only one line of Ger-
where the semantic content of the locution is in man which I rememberfrom a poem I had to memo-
direct accordwith the illocutionaryintentof the rize in a high school Germancourse. ThereforeI, a
utterance. But one can also proceed indirectly. capturedAmerican, address my Italian captors with
For example, if a colleague says, "Gee, I don't the following sentence: Kennst du das Land wo die
know how I'm going to get to the concert on Zitronenbliihen?24
Wednesday,"the locutionary act is ostensibly a
statementof bewilderment,but we do not regard Here the locutionary act is the quotation from
it as such-rather, it is a polite requestfor a ride. WilhelmMeister;its literal meaning is that of a
The illocutionaryintentof this locution is not to geographicalquestion. Yethere we see how this
give me informationaboutthe speaker'sstate of same utterancecan be used to perform a wide
mind, but, in making the requestin this fashion, variety of illocutionary acts: "Kennstdu das
my colleague allows me some latitude in my Land..." can function as a literal question, as a
reply. So while the locutionary act is one of a poetic reminiscencewithin a workof fiction, or
statement/assertion,the illocutionaryact is one as a tactical ruse on a battlefield (as well as an
of making a request. The perlocutionaryeffect example in a philosophypaper). As Searle him-
wouldbe for me to altermy plans so thatmy col- self has succinctly noted:
league gets a ride to the concert.23
In the first example the speakeruses an utter- We thus detach the notions of referringand predicat-
ance in the form of a questionto ask a question, ing from the notions of such complete speech acts as
moreover,the speakeruses a questionthat is se- asserting, questioning, commanding, etc., and the
manticallypertinentto the illocutionaryact she justificationfor this separationlies in the fact thatthe
wishes to perform. By contrast,in the "fishing same referenceand predicationcan occur in the per-
for a ride"example my hypothetical colleague formanceof differentcomplete speech acts.25
uses an assertion to make her request, and in-
deed, if I knew we were both trying to go to the Locution and illocution may be regardedas in-
concert she could have made an even more dependentvariablesin the locution, illocution,
oblique remark,"Oh no, my car just died, and and perlocutionschema.The same locutionmay
won't be fixed for a week," which I could just mapinto severaldifferentillocutionaryacts, and
as readily recognize as a request. Thus there is likewise, the same illocutionary intent may be
more than one way to perform a given illocu- fulfilled by severaldifferentlocutionaryacts.
tionary act. This many-to-one connection be- The American soldier's illocutionary act is
tween variouslocutions and a given illocution is far more complex, however,than Searle's own
mirrored by a many-to-one relationship be- analysis would admit. The soldier wants his
tween a single locution and the potential for its would-becaptorsto take his illocutionaryintent
use in different illocutionary acts. As a result, to be an assertionof his Germanness. That this
locution and illocution are separable, and this illocutionaryact is a false assertionhas nothing
separabilityallows for a mappingbetween mu- to do with the effectiveness of the speech act.
56 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism

Indeed, the desired perlocutionary effect de- whereby the state of affairs in the game is
pends on the Italian captors making justifiable changed. Trueenough, but in baseball the um-
(but false) inferences about this illocution. pire need not say a word, for by making certain
Searle treats this example as if the American's hand gestures he or she can convey a ruling
principalruse is to utter"Ich bin ein Deutscher of "safe"or "out." Similarly,in the class of ex-
Soldat," and that the Italians also assume that ercitives, which includes such acts as appoint-
what the Americanis trying to utter is "Ich bin ing, dismissing, dedicating, sentencing, and so
ein DeutscherSoldat." But since our soldier is forth, one can imagine a king granting knight-
quite clever,he realizes thatif the Italiansdo not hood to a soldier in his service by touching his
know German, then any string of German will sword to the knight's shoulders, with nary a
do, since they will regardit, at the very least, as word spoken. And of course, under Austin's
an assertionof his "Germanness"whetheror not class of behabitives,which includes greetings,
the Italians believe that our hero is actually as- farewells,challenges,andso forth,therearemany
serting that he is a Germansoldier (in German kinds of gestures (hand-waving,clapping,rais-
or any other language). And it is at this point ing certain fingers, etc.) which can signify our
thatthe soldier and I partcompanywith Profes- feelings and/orintuitionswithoutlanguage.27
sor Searle, for simply by the Italians' recogni- On the other hand, some classes of speech
tion of the soldier's utteranceas a vague asser- acts are wholly dependenton language, for one
tion of Germanness,a series of perlocutionary of two reasons. Austin's category of commis-
effects should follow, which, with a bit of luck, sives, which includes promises and other cov-
will allow the Americansoldierto escape. For it enants,declarationsof intentor consent, as well
is not just that a single instance of predication as declarationsof opposition, would seem to re-
and reference can work in different illocution- quirethe capacityfor making tensed statements
ary contexts-the "Germansoldier" example (a promise is a future obligation; a declaration
points to a conclusion far more bold. Without of purposemay include the presentand past, but
any predication or reference the illocutionary also impinges upon one's futureactions;a retro-
act can still be successful, since if the Italians diction may involve a recasting of the under-
really do not know German, then any string of standingof past events, and so forth),and hence
German-sounding gibberish will work. Thus would requirea linguistic vehicle for their exe-
while it is importantthatthe Americansoldier's cution. Similarly,expositives, all of which in-
utterance have the appropriate phonological clude a propositionalcomponent"thatp" (e.g.,
form (both in its phonetic content and in its affirmations, mentions, rejoinders, postulates,
overallintonation),it need not have any particu- declarations, illustrations, etc.), would also
lar syntactic or semantic form. seem to requirea linguistic vehicle for their ex-
The next move is to investigate various cate- pression. Thus the capacity for making tensed
gories of speech acts to see how both linguistic and/or predicate statements is necessary for
and nonlinguistic locutionary acts may be these two classes of speech acts, as well as for
mapped onto the same illocutionaryact; by ex- some types of speech acts which fall into other
aminingthese categorieswe shall come to a bet- categories. As such, these sorts of speech acts
ter understandingof the way(s) in which speech can be regardedas "purely"linguistic, and thus
acts may be usefully mappedonto music. Austin we would not expect to find (nor in fact do we
lists five broad categories of speech acts: ver- find) any musical corollaries of these sorts of
dictives, exercitives, commissives, behabitives, speech acts. But other classes (verdictives,ex-
and expositives.26 In laying out his taxonomy ercitives, and [especially] behabitives) are less
Austin gives several illustrations for each pure, and it is here that we may find musical in-
speech act category, some of which can be per- stances of speech acts.
formed both with and without language. Thus, On the basis of this distinction between lin-
for example, as an instance of a verdictive guistically pure versus impure speech acts we
Austin cites an umpire's ruling ("out" versus can refine the ways in which the MUSIC IS LAN-
"safe")as a case where the utteranceof the um- GUAGE metaphorwill map propertiesof linguis-
pire, empoweredby his position as referee and tic discourseonto music. In the case of specific
by the rules of the game, counts as a ruling mappings,we requirea reasonablyfixed corre-
London Musical and LinguisticSpeechActs 57

spondence between the source and target do- warnings or threatsare behabitives,authoritar-
mains. Therefore,theremust be some necessary ian ordersare verdictives.Even thoughthereare
set of characteristicswhich defines the structure various phonological features to orders and
of the source domain, and these characteristics other verdictives (e.g., an umpire usually yells
are then mapped onto the target. If this is the "out"or "safe," and hence relative loudness is
case, then we can see which classes of speech part of its "emphaticintonation'),these musical
acts will map in a more or less "direct"fashion qualities do not in and of themselvesengendera
onto music. First, and most obviously, commis- mapping from these linguistic speech act cate-
sives and expositives simply cannot map di- gories onto language. Rather,under the MUSIC
rectly onto music since music cannot fulfill the IS LANGUAGE metaphor,in orderto define slots
requirementsof tense and/or predication that for COMPOSITIONAL GESTURES ARE SPEECH ACTS,
these classes of speech acts require. Similarly, we would want to restrict SPEECH ACTS to BE-
since verdictives and exercitives require a HABITIVE SPEECH ACTS for purely instrumental
specifically-defined institutional role for the music. However, in the case of music which
speaker (e.g., speaker-as-umpire,speaker-as- involves a text, either as a sung lyric or as a pro-
king, speaker-as-priest,etc.) which gives au- grammatictitle or discourse (e.g., Beethoven's
thorityand force to their words, and since com- "Pastoral"Symphonyor the more detailedstory
posers do not fulfill such institutionally-defined which accompanies Berlioz's SymphonieFan-
roles, it follows that musical gestures could not tastique), we may loosen this restriction and
count as these types of speech acts either.28 thus attend to the match (or mismatch) of mu-
This leaves the category of behabitives(a cate- sical and phonological qualities in judging
gory which Austin himself labeled "a shocker the appropriateness(or inappropriateness)of
this").29 Accordingto Austin, behabitives"are the musical setting of the particular lyric or
a very miscellaneousgroup, and have to do with program.
attitudesand social behaviour[Austin'sempha- One may also consider the ways in which
sis]. Examples of behabitives are apologizing, nonspecific mappings may occur from SPEECH
congratulating,commending, condoling, curs- ACTS to COMPOSITIONAL GESTURES. In these
ing, and challenging."30Since behabitivesoften cases, we may countenancethose mappingseven
involve little or no propositional content, and where certain essential features of the source
since as the coins of social exchange they are all domain are lost in mapping to the target do-
performed in the present tense (or indeed in a main. We may loosen the behabitiverestriction
tenseless fashion), the mapping of a speech act on musical speech acts in those cases where
slot such as greeting onto a musical motive can nonbehabitivespeech acts are strongly implied
proceed in a straightforwardfashion. by parallels between the musical structureand
Furthermore, behabitives are speech acts the phonologicalform of the speech act. I have
which are stronglymarkedby intonationas well in mind the relatively common characterization
as other paralinguisticfeatures. As Haverkate of a passage which involves an interplay be-
has pointed out: tween two (or more) discernibleinstrumentsor
musicallines as an argument.An argumentmay
At the articulatorylevel, it is particularlyintonation be describedas an imbricatedseries of exposi-
contour and intensity accent which serve to bring tives-an assertion"P"followed by a rejoinder
about specific perlocutionaryeffects. Thus, for ex- "not P" then followed by "Well, of course P"
ample, an emphaticintonationpatternis a character- and then topped with "Well,all right,but P only
istic device for utteringa warning, a threator an au- if Q," and so forth. For in the case of argu-
thoritarianorder.31 ments, whose phonological form is so distinc-
tive and so ripe for musical abstraction,even
Thus behabitives such as warnings, threats, without a knowledge of what the P in question
greetings, etc., requirethe listener to attend to is, one may nonetheless be justified in charac-
the "musical" qualities (pitch, tone of voice, terizing an exchange as an argument. For ex-
loudness, rhythm,and articulation)of the locu- ample, I am able to know that my neighbors in
tion in order to comprehend the illocutionary the adjacentapartmentare having an argument,
act. Now, as some may have alreadynoted, while and even an argument in a foreign language,
58 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism

without a knowledge of the substance of their

disagreement. In the musical analogto this case
(as well as others, e.g., when we regarda series
2.d f~~~~~I
of musical phrases as a question followed by an
answer),the overarchingpresence of the MUSIC
IS LANGUAGE metaphor,coupled with the mor-
cce i1 f

phological parallels between the linguistic and

Pp f
musical sounds, engendersa speech act analysis
based on general properties of the source and
targetdomains. These are the opening measures of Haydn's
We have seen that some (but not all) types of StringQuartet,op. 33, no. 5 (G major). The first
linguistic speech acts can be mapped onto in- two measures are, of course, the close of an ar-
strumentalmusic. With regard to those types chetypal cadence-yet the piece begins with
which are mappable,we can find clear parallels this gesture.33 It is ratherlike a preacherbe-
in music to the locutionary, illocutionary, and ginning a prayerwith the 'Amen."Clearlysome-
perlocutionary aspects of a linguistic speech thing peculiar is going on, as this putative ca-
act; what might be termedtonary, intonary,and dence cannot be the ending of any phrase,
pertonary aspects of a musical phrase.32 period,or section. Crucialto our subsequentun-
derstandingof these measuresas well as the rest
of the movementis to acknowledgethat Haydn
A i~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ had some "intonaryintent"in startinghis quar-
tet this way-whether it was to unsettle the lis-
tener by starting the quartetin this fashion, to
16 tonic chord with ii6 (supertonic chord V (chord built on I (tonic again, but
3rd in bass) built on "ret"also
with 3rd in bass)
5th note of scale) with root of
chord in the
set up a formalproblem(i.e., if this is an ending,
where is the real beginning, since the following
We can describethe tonaryaspect(s) of this mu- measurebegins a phrasewhich smacksoffs pas-
sical "utterance"in terms of its harmonicstruc- sage in medias res), to set a less serioustone for
ture(16-ii6-V-I); in Westerntonal music in gen- the movement and for the quartet as a whole,
eral, and in the late-eighteenth-centuryViennese and so forth.
style in particular,this progressionis a stock ca-
dential progression, signifying the close of a IV
musical periodor section (indeed, this is a more
elaborateinstance of the same cadential arche- Speech act analysesareoften appliedto music as
type discussed in example three). The intonary a means of explaining infelicitiesin the musical
function-and one would assume, the intonary discourse, and these infelicities are often de-
intention of the composer in putting this pro- tailed in surprisinglyGriceanterms. In his sem-
gression at a particularplace within a piece-is inal paper"Logic and Conversation,"Grice de-
to bring the period or section to a close (a sort veloped his cooperativeprinciple as a basis for
of "topic-closing function" in the musical dis- linguistic exchanges:
course). If I recognize the composer's intonary
intent in making this declaration of closure I Make your conversationalcontributionsuch as it is
have succeeded at the intonary uptake of the required, at the stage at which it occurs by the ac-
gesture, and indeed, if I feel that the music has cepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in
come to a close, then the composerhas achieved which you are engaged.34
his or her desired pertonaryeffect.
As in language, to understandany given in- Grice then suggests four (though there may be
tonaryact requiresan understandingof the con- more) maxims of cooperation: quantity-give
text in which it is made. Considerthe tonaryact the amountof informationthat is required,nei-
from example three when it is placed in the fol- thermore nor less; quality-do not give false in-
lowing context: formation;relation-be relevant;and manner-
be perspicuous. The first three maxims pertain
to what is being said, while mannerpertains to
London Musical and LinguisticSpeechActs 59

how something is said. To furtherdefine man-

ner, Grice notes that one should avoid obscurity, VI..
I &0 j 000 J 0il; Rio fioNo
avoid ambiguity,be brief, and be orderly.35
VI. ejah
If these maxims were perfectly fulfilled, then
all of the elements in a conversationwould fol-
low in a logical order,but, of course, they usu-
ally do not. Gricenotes thatthere are four ways
in which the cooperative principle may be vio- 1 pf P~~~~~~~~P

lated: (1) a speaker may unconsciously or un- VI. .O I . .

knowingly mislead and thus inadvertentlyvio-
late a maxim, (2) a speaker may opt out of the !i.
conversation,(3) a speakermay be faced with a
clash between conflicting maxims, e.g., when P~~~~~~~~~P
the subject broachedmay requirea detailed ex-
planationbut time does not allow for it (quantity
here clashes with manner),or (4) a speakermay
knowingly and purposefully flout a maxim. S -7 ~~~~~i _i _1 __I ___
Grice gives the following example: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~7ff7?z~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_ _ _ JE f
A is writinga testimonialabouta pupilwhois a can-
didatefora philosophyjob,andhis letterreadsas fol-
lows:"DearSir,Mr.X's commandof Englishis ex-
cellent, and his attendanceat tutorialshas been
regular. Yours,etc."36

Here,by damningwith faint praise,A, thoughhe

knows a great deal abouthis pupil, intentionally
withholds information in his response. The
maxim of quantity is only apparentlyviolated The tenfold repetitionof this motive cannot be
here, for by appeal to the cooperative principle explained in termsof any normativethematicor
we realize that not enough has been said, and phrase-buildingprocedure. Rather,the effect is
thus we are able to recover the conversational precisely the opposite: the overabundantrepeti-
implicature,namely,that A has tactfully told us tion serves to obliterateany sense of phrasethis
that Mr.X is not very good at philosophy. passage might have. The repetitionof this mo-
Pieces of music are not conversations but tive is a violationof the maximof quantity.
thoughtfully composed artworks (even when Moreover, over the course of the passage the
they imitate conversations). Nonetheless, when motive which initially served a melodic func-
we find in them violations of the cooperative tion is transformedinto an accompaniment-it
principle, we tend to assume that these viola- changes from a figure to a ground, so to speak.
tions are intentionalfloutings of one (or more) By failing to fulfill the melodic promise of the
of the principle'smaxims. Indeed, we often en- motive, Beethoven also violates the maxim of
counter musical descriptions precisely along manner, as the melodydoes not continueas it
these lines: themes thatare too long or too short has done in previous presentations.Once this
are described in terms of overstatementor un- transformationhas occurred,we normallywould
derstatement, i.e., violations of quantity; me- expect a new melodic figure to enter; this does
lodic and harmonicnon sequiturs(for example, not happen, and we are now faced with another
a "deceptive"cadence) are violations of rela- violationof manner(and perhapsof relation
tion; ambiguous (especially tonally ambiguous), as well). The great tension and expectation
rhythmically chaotic, or overly dense musical this passage achieves stems in large part from
textures are violations of manner.37 Consider these violations of the cooperative principle-
the following example, taken from Beethoven's Beethovenis stubbornlyrefusingto give us what
"Pastoral"Symphony: we want to hear in the way we wish to hear it.38
60 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism

V eating the chilies) which is causing me a modest

The end of the "Joke" Quartet can be seen as a
similar exercise in flouting, a particularly out- Though they may at first seem redundant, note
rageous violation of the maxims of manner and that L2 and L3 are the ways by which we recog-
relation. The informal analysis of Haydn's joke nize the presence of the reflexive intentions of
given above was in fact based upon a seven-step the speaker. In L2 the semantic content of the
model for the analysis of nonliteral speech acts utterance is recovered, and in L3 this content is
proposed by Bach and Harnish. Nonliteral recognized as the content of the speaker's locu-
speech acts are those "where it would not be rea- tion. L4 is our first attempt at illocutionary up-
sonable to suppose that the speaker is F*-ing take, in which we construe the speaker's re-
that p" (that is, literally asserting some proposi- marks literally. This attempt fails in L5, and
tion p with a particular illocutionary intent in thus we try again in L6. L6 is in some sense a
some particular linguistic context).39 For exam- "trap door" in the speech act schema that allows
ple, suppose I am having some spicy salsa with us to return to L2 and reinterpret the meaning of
a companion, and after swallowing a mouthful the speaker's utterance. Once this reinterpreta-
of green chilies I say "My mouth is on fire!" tion takes place, then L3 and L4 again follow
The analysis of this speech act would take the (which we could designate as L3' and L4'), with
following form: L7 = L4', so to speak.
Our understanding of the last two measures of
LI. S is utteringe. the "Joke" Quartet may also be fitted into this
L2. S means ... by e. schema:
L3. S is saying that *( ... p ...).
L4. S, if speaking literally,is F*-ing thatp. LI. At the very end of the quartet,Haydnpresentsus
L5. S could not (underthe circumstances)be F*-ing with a repeatof mm. 1-2.
L2. These measureshave previouslymarkedthe start
of the 8 mm. rondotheme;thusHaydnmustmean
L6. Under the circumstancesthere is a certain recog-
thatthese two measuresareyet anotherbeginning.
nizable relationR between saying that *( ... p ... )
L3. Haydn is stating "hereis the beginning of rondo
and some F-ing thatP, such thatS could be F-ing
L4. If Haydnis "speakingliterally,"then he would be
L7. S is F-ing thatP.40
asserting that the music is continuing/beginning
yet again.
In the case of this particular speech act my illo-
L5. As nothing else follows these measures, Haydn
cution would map to their schema as follows:
cannot really be telling us thatthe rondotheme is
beginning again.
LI. I utter"My mouth is on fire." L6. In this context, we are forced to consideralterna-
L2. By this, H assumes that I mean "S's mouth is on tive interpretationsfor these measures, and thus
fire." find the weak cadence embedded within the
L3. I am saying that my mouth is on fire. phrase.
L4. If I am speaking literally,I am asserting that my L7. Haydnis telling us thatthe beginning was an end-
mouth is aflame, burning,etc. ing all along.
L5. However, I could not (under the circumstances)
really be asserting that my mouth is undergoing The goodness-of-fit between the linguistic
some form of combustion. model and the musical analysis is suggestive, to
L6. Under the circumstances, however, there is an- say the least. For every step in the analysis/re-
other way of construingmy remarks,namely that covery of the illocutionary act of a speaker, we
the chilies are very spicy/hot (spicierperhapsthan can map a clear corollary in recovering the com-
I had anticipated), and as a result I am suffering positional intentions of the composer. What is
from a minor physical discomfort. especially useful is to see that we may use the
L7. I am really asserting that there is a certain acid same pattern of inference here as in its linguis-
chemical sensation in my mouth (as a result of tic analog, whereby we reject an initial interpre-
London Musical and LinguisticSpeechActs 61

tationof Haydn'smusicalutterance,and then re- What essential linguistic communicationis in-

place it with a more suitableanalysis. volved here? The answermust be: none.
Furthermore,consider for a moment what an In this case, the MUSIC IS LANGUAGE meta-
analysis of the "Joke"Quartet's ending would phor which drives my speech act analysis of
look like if we do not consider Haydn's illocu- music, while perhapsan interestingculturalcri-
tionary intent (and flouting)-viz., what would tique, does not pass muster as an adequateac-
our analysis would then look like if we assume countof ourunderstandingof musicalstructures
that Haydn did not wish to have his listener re- and their relationshipwith the composers who
gard the ending of the "Joke"Quartetas a pun. create them and the listeners who interpret
In that case, the final two measuresof the quar- them. Similarly, if one believes in a relatively
tet become a musical pratfall, a faux pas. As a strictform of musicalautonomy,then no form of
result, our laughteris now at Haydn'sexpense, musical representation,other than a purelymu-
as we should have to claim that the manipula- sical one, will suffice, and the MUSIC IS LAN-
tions of the ending which elaboratelyset up the GUAGE metaphor(like all othermetaphors)must

ending-as-punwere accidental,and thatthe pun be rejectedout of hand. On the otherhand, if one

itself is a matterof dumb luck. It is more plau- admits that our representationsof music need
sible and prudent to admit into the analysis not be (and perhapscannot be) purely musical,
Haydn'spurposefulviolationof a Griceanmaxim then MUSIC IS LANGUAGE iS not only a possible
than to exclude it. representationfor music, but a ratherattractive
one for what it buys us in our understandingof
musical structure.
Recall again Searle's "Germansoldier" ex-
While the accountsof our metaphoricalmotiva- ample, which, as noted above, does not require
tion for a speech act analysis of music, of the ap- any sense of referenceor predicationin orderto
plication of Gricean analysis to musical dis- function as a successful illocutionaryact. Now,
many readersmay be quick to observe thateven
course, and the relativeease with which a model
if there is no precise predicationor referencein
for illocutionary acts in language may be em-
Searle's soldier's utterance,there is nonetheless
ployed in musical contexts that I have given in
at least a crude sense of meaning (i.e., "I am
the previous sections may provide an accurate
German")which follows from the American's
account of how some (perhaps most) listeners use of (putatively) Germanphonemes, and that
treat musical structure,some philosophers will the speech act analysis given above depends
nonetheless regard it as a case of the tail wag- upon the recoverabilityof this rough meaning.
ging the dog. That is, even though it is possible This is quite true. However, there is not any
to regardmusical structuresas speech acts, and sense of "reference"involved in the American's
even if it is easy to do, and even if everybody Germanbabbling,but there is a sense of signifi-
seems to be doing it, we cannotvalidly conclude cation: when the American produces German-
that music is like language in some essential sounding language (in the given context) this
way(s). For the problem, as some readersmay expression counts as a sign of his German-
have already noted, is this: what exactly does ness.42 Note that the disclaimer "in the given
Haydn say in the first two measuresof his quar- context" is crucial to the sense of significance
tet? (And a corollary: how is this utterance at my Americansoldier is trying to achieve, for if
odds with what he ought to say at the end of the he were to attemptthis ruse with two fluent Ger-
quartet?) My explanationof whatHaydnmeans man speakers, it would quickly fail. Therefore,
(and hence what he says) is wholly contextual:I the fact that the significance of an utterance
relate later occurrences of the "beginning mo- is context-dependent for its recognition need
tive" to its initial presentation,and it is this pre- not disarmits illocutionarypotential.And what,
sentation which "defines" the meaning of the indeed, is the illocutionary intention that our
utterance.But I would be at a loss to say what soldier has? He intends (reflexively) that his
Haydn means (in the sense of meaning/saying potential captors believe that he is German
"thatp") at the beginning of the quartet,or if I (perlocutionaryeffect #1) and then also, on ac-
were to hear this phrase played out of context. count of thatbelief, release him (perlocutionary
62 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism

effect #2). What does Haydn intend? He in- of our lives-most of our interactionswith an-
tends to tell a joke. Telling a joke would not otherpersonare linguistic interactions.It is thus
seem to involve any "real"propositionalcontent not surprisingthat if and when we acknowledge
(as the assertions that occur within the story- that some sort of communicationbetween com-
world of the joke are regardedas fictional). Yet poser and listener occurs, it follows that in such
joketellers and punstershave reasons for telling instances we often rely upon our linguistic com-
their tales: they wish to demonstratetheir lin- petence. This competence is a powerful tool
guistic cleverness;they wish to affirm a sense of which we reflexively employ to understandmu-
community(between those who get thejoke and sical structure(s)in terms of linguistic interac-
those who do not); they wish to entertainand to tion. And, of course, speech acts are not the
be seen as witty and entertaining,and so forth. whole story in musical analysis and criticism
These intentionsentail variousillocutionaryas- (recall the other constitutive metaphors for
pects; by telling a particularlywittyjoke a joke- music given above). But MUSIC IS LANGUAGE iS
ster asserts his cleverness and sophistication; a large part (and for some listeners perhapsthe
he invitesmembershipinto a certain social com- centralpart) of the story. It is a part which de-
munity;and so forth. I would argue that Haydn serves to be moved out of the musicological
reflexively intends many of these same things: shadows and into the light of philosophicaland
to demonstratehis musical cleverness, to enter- musicologicalscrutinyso thatwe may betterun-
tain us, to affirm a sense of communitywith the derstand its workings, its benefits, its weak-
musically sophisticated(and to make fun of the nesses, and its dangers. One can admitthe pres-
musically unsophisticated). And of course, he ence of a substantial"linguisticoverlap"without
does make us smile, laugh, or groan. negating music's aesthetic and cognitive inde-
Perhapsthe key to the linguistic groundingof pendence. For withoutinvoking conversational
music in general (and Haydn's"Joke"in partic- analysis, all we can do is commenton the degree
ular) lies with our knowledge and understand- of closure (or lack thereof) in Haydn'squartet
ing of indirectspeech acts. The point here is that and the degree of its conformance (or noncon-
the prototypicalcase of "not meaning what you formance) to cadentialarchetypes. To deny the
say" (or, perhapsbetter,"not meaning what you linguistic presencein this music both disenfran-
signify") is a linguistic case, for language pro- chises the listener and greatly impoverishesthe
vides a rich enough context for disambiguation skill and power of the composer's voice. With-
and decoding of discursiveinfelicities.43 Thus, out referenceto language, Haydn'smusic is di-
when we come to the end of the "Joke"Quartet, vested of much, perhapsmost, of the composi-
we realize thatHaydncannotreally "meanwhat
tional richnessand skill for which we value both
he says," musically speaking-we are then
him and his art.44
thrust into a situation analogous to an indirect
speech act. As was noted above, withoutan ap-
peal to Griceanconcerns we may just as easily
Departmentof Music
regardthe joke as a pratfallthan as a sort of mu-
sical bon mot;this situationis just like the prob-
Northfield, Minnesota 55057
lem we have when trying to distinguishbetween
a malapropismand a pun. That is, the hearer
cannotdeterminewhethershe shouldlaughat or
with the speaker-or, in this case, with Haydn.
Thus the invocationof speech act theory for mu-
sical analysis has serious implications for our 1. Mark Evan Bonds, "Haydn,LaurenceSterne, and the
aestheticjudgmentof Haydn'smusical work: Is Originsof Musical Irony,"Journalof the AmericanMusico-
he in control of his material? Is he marshaling logical Society 44 (1991): 70-7 1.
his musical gestures in an interesting and con- 2. Mark Johnson, ed., Philosophical Perspectives on
vincing fashion? Is the resulting work well Metaphor (University of Minnesota Press, 1981); Mark
Johnson, The Body in the Mind (University of Chicago
formed? And so forth. Press, 1987); George Lakoff, Women,Fire, and Dangerous
Of course, stringquartetsare not literallycon- Things:WhatCategoriesRevealAboutthe Mind (University
versations. But language is a pervasive aspect of Chicago Press, 1987); George Lakoff and MarkJohnson,
London Musical and LinguisticSpeechActs 63

MetaphorsWeLive By (University of Chicago Press, 1980); 20. It is worth mentioning that our willingness to go to
George Lakoff and MarkTurner,MoreThanCool Reason:A such lengths in making sense of Haydn'snon-sense is pre-
Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor (University of Chicago cisely because it is Haydn'snonsense; were this the work of
Press, 1989). a lesser (or student)composer,we might well reject it out of
3. Johnson,PhilosophicalPerspectiveson Metaphor,p. 4. hand. The humor of this ending depends on Haydn's au-
4. Ibid., p. 12. thorityas a mastercomposerand the trustsuch authorityen-
5. For a thorough critique of the traditional model of genders.
metaphorsee Lakoff and Turner,More Than Cool Reason, 21. I also would note that speech act analysis provides a
pp. 110-135. useful articulationof how the MUSIC IS LANGUAGE metaphor
6. Lakoff and Johnson,MetaphorsWeLive By, p. 3. is used for just this purpose. First and foremost, the pres-
7. Ibid., p. 4. ence of this metaphorinvokes severalpresuppositionswhich
8. Ibid., p. 4. are crucial to the successful execution of illocutionaryacts.
9. Johnson,TheBody in the Mind, p. 73. As Bach and Harnish point out, speech acts depend on a
10. Kent Bach and Robert M. Harnish, Linguistic Com- communicativepresumption,"themutualbelief prevailingin
municationand SpeechActs (MIT Press, 1979). a linguistic communityto the effect that wheneversomeone
11. Peter Kivy, Sound Sentiment (Temple University says something to somebody, he intends to be performing
Press, 1989), p. 58. some identifiableillocutionaryact"(LinguisticCommunica-
12. Here I am pursuing an interpretationof musical tion and Speech Acts, p. 12). Furthermore,speakers and
metaphorthat runs counter to that proposed by Daniel Put- hearers are both aware of these intentions in a particular
nam (in "Some Distinctions on the Role of Metaphor in fashion: "These intentions are reflexive, and their fulfill-
Music," The Journal of Aesthetic Education 23 [19891: ment consists in theirrecognition"(ibid., p. 15). It is notjust
103-104), who argues that metaphoricalinterpretationsof that hearersknow that speakershave certain intentions,and
music are primarily"orientational"(using Lakoff and John- that it is theirjob in a linguistic exchange to figure out what
son's terminology-see theirMetaphorsWeLiveBy, pp. 14- those intentions may be; it is also that speakers know that
24), i.e., thatmost metaphoricalaccountsof musicalstructure hearers know that they (the speakers) have certain inten-
are cast in spatial terms (up, down, movement, and motion, tions. Speakers may then depend upon the hearer'saccep-
etc.). The MUSIC IS LANGUAGE metaphormoves beyond a tance of the communicativepresumptionwhen they choose
spatialization of music, and transforms the perception of to speak indirectly and/or nonliterally, for speakers may
music into language. Hence it is precisely an example of then assume that their interlocutorswill attemptto construe
what Lakoff and Johnson have called an "ontological" their utterancesin the most relevantand meaningful fashion
metaphor(ibid., pp. 25-32). relativeto theirimmediatelinguisticcontexts.Similarly,com-
13. Lakoff and Turner,MoreThanCool Reason, p. 59. posers may assume that listeners will attempt to construe
14. Ibid., p. 51. their compositionalgesturesin the most relevantand mean-
15. Ibid., pp. 80-81. ingful fashion relative to their immediatemusical contexts.
16. It is also quite possible to considera genericmetaphor 22. J. L. Austin, How ToDo ThingsWithWords(Harvard
thatcould (and probablydoes) impingeon the MUSIC IS LAN- UniversityPress, 1962).
GUAGE metaphor,and that would be a COMMUNICATION IS 23. The causal distinction between illocutionaryand per-
SPEECH (or some similar) metaphoricstructure. This is an- locutionaryacts is problematic(see Bach and Harnish,Lin-
other way of saying what I said before-that our under- guistic Communicationand Speech Acts, pp. 12-18). For
standing of semiotic and other purposively communicative while it is true that in some sense my colleague "got me to
behavior is grounded in our understandingof language, give hera ride"in this case, it is also truethatI am not wholly
since it is the most pervasive and familiar form of human at her linguistic mercy in respondingto her illocution. For,
communication. One may accept this generic-level meta- of course, the perlocutionaryresponseto a request(or other
phorbut rejectthe specific MUSIC IS LANGUAGE metaphor- illocutionaryact) may not always be the responsedesiredby
in which case my subsequentdiscussion of linguistic to mu- the speaker. If I reply to my colleague "Sorry,but our car is
sical correspondenceswould not be viewed as structuresper in the shop," I have denied her requestfor a ride. In which
se, but ratheras constraintsupon the frameworksone would case, I have recognized the illocutionary act performedby
make in orderto comprehendmusic. As such, this still would my colleague-my "illocutionary uptake" has been suc-
allow for a speech act analysis of music (for example),but it cessful-but my responsedid not yield the desired perlocu-
would necessarily be a weaker analysis, with correspond- tionary effect. For the purposes of this paper, I will not
ingly weaker ontological claims. speak of perlocutionaryacts, but simply of perlocutionary
17. For a complete account of the process of metaphoric effects that are the resultof successful illocutionaryuptake.
mapping see Lakoff and Turner,More Than Cool Reason, 24. JohnR. Searle, SpeechActs:An Essay in the Philoso-
pp. 61-65. The discussion in this and the next paragraphis phy of Language (London: Cambridge University Press,
modeled after their analysis of the structureof the LIFE IS A 1969), p. 44.
JOURNEY metaphor. 25. Ibid., p. 23.
18. Lakoff and Turner,More ThanCool Reason, p. 65. 26. Austin.,How ToDo ThingsWithWords,p. 151. Subse-
19.The events which follow m. 148 are not withoutclever quent authorsexpand upon the numberof classes of speech
foreshadowingon Haydn'spart, i.e., in the quirkyuse of the acts and/orgive a more fine-grainedaccountof varioussub-
opening materialin the B and C sections of the rondo (mm. classes within each of Austin'scategories(indeed, one could
37-71 and mm. 108-140, respectively). Both of these epi- say thata largepartof the debateoverspeech acts subsequent
sodic sections end with rhythmic and melodic fragmenta- to Austin'sseminalworkhas been overtheirtaxonomy-see,
tion (mm. 66-73 and mm. 130-142). for example, Bach and Harnish,LinguisticCommunication
64 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism

and Speech Acts, p. 40 and passim). However,for our pur- 39. Bach and Harnish, Linguistic Communicationand
poses an examinationof Austin'scategorieswill suffice. SpeechActs, p. 65.
27. It is worth noting thatunderthe legal doctrineof "reli- 40. N.B., Bach and Harnish use the presence/absenceof
ance" there are whole areas of contractlaw which deal with an asterisk to indicate the presence/absence of a literal
nonlinguistic undertakingsand exchanges. I am grateful to speech act. Thus in steps L6 and L7 when we shift from a
my colleague MatthewKramerfor pointing this out to me. literalto a nonliteralinterpretationof the speech act, the as-
28. However,since verdictivesand exercitives are, for the teriskis omitted (see ibid., pp. 61-66).
most part, highly arbitraryand formulaiclocutions, it would 41. My utterancecould also be partof a nonliteralindirect
be quite possible to have musical substitutesfor these utter- speech act, in that along with asserting that I am in some
ances. For example, if some branchof the Catholic Church small physical discomfortI might also be requestingfor my
decided that whenever a priest, hearing a confession, companionto get some water(i.e., if none were at hand), or
hummedthe musical motive "mi-sol-do"this would countas acknowledgingherpriorwarningthatthe pepperswere very
a sign of absolution, then by humming "mi-sol-do" in the hot, etc.
propercontext the priestcould absolve me of my sins. 42. This demonstratesthat rathersubtle and/or complex
29. Austin, How ToDo Things WithWords,p. 151. linguistic transactions are possible even with rather large
30. Ibid., p. 152. and sloppylinguisticutterances.If this is the case, thenrough
31. Henk Haverkate,'A Speech-Act Analysis of Irony," categories of musical expression (i.e., such as a simple op-
Journalof Pragmatics 14 (1990): 77. position between"happy"versus"sad"as discussed in Kivy,
32. I wish to acknowledgethe contributionof my colleague, Sound Sentiment) may be adequate input for the fine-
GaryIseminger,who proposedthese names. I, of course,take grainedoutputof our analysis of particularmusical gestures
full responsibilityfor theirdefinitionand usage here. in particularstructuraland performancecontexts. Studies
33. While this is not a completeperformanceof the caden- of musicalexpressionand of musicalsemioticsoften stumble
tial archetype,it is clear enough, both in containingthe most on the observationthat, if music has any capacity for refer-
ence (or at least a capacity to induce widespread"associa-
importantpart of the cadence (the V-I chord progressionat
tions" between certain classes of musical gestures and cer-
the end) and one of its characteristicmelodic motions(sol-la-
tain affects), it would seem to be rathermodest, with a fairly
ti-do). It is also worthnotingthatwhile placementof the dou-
limited numberof semantic categories. The limited "lexi-
ble bar (which indicates that these measureswill be absent
con" of music is then a problemfor subsequentaccountsof
when this part of the quartetis repeated, as is customary)
meaning-with only a few entries,and limited combinator-
gives the playersin the quarteta big clue as to the illocution- ial possibilities of those entries, music would seem to have
ary game thatis afoot, the listenerswho do not havethe score- an impoverishedcapacity for expression and signification.
as-a-musical-road-map are not privyto this information. However,an appeal to the use of these semantic categories
34. H. Paul Grice, "Logic and Conversation,"in Syntax in the context of a musical illocution allows one to restore
and Semantics, eds. P. Cole and J. L. Morgan (New York: much of the richnessto our understandingof the meaning of
Academic Press, 1975), p. 45. a musical gesture.
35. Ibid., p. 46. 43. Haverkatehas also arguedthat the recoveryof verbal
36. Ibid., p. 52. irony-which he defines as "saying something different
37. I haveomittedthe maximof qualityfrom this list, since from what you mean" ('A Speech-Act Analysis of Irony,"
it usually does not apply to music, it being groundedin the p. 77) is not based on the propositionalcontent of an utter-
truthor falsehoodof an assertion. However,since Grice,in a ance (and some conventionwherebythe utteranceis marked
discussion of quality,notes that conversationalcontributions for a nonliteral interpretation)but ratheris dependenton a
shouldbe "genuineand not spurious"("Logicand Conversa- recoveryof illocutionaryintent:"Wehaveto look for the ori-
tion," p. 47), one might have floutings of qualityin musical gin of the irony [in Haverkate'svariousexamples] at another
contexts. For instance, one may have musical gesturesthat level than that of the proposition. This other level, then, is
are intentionallyspurious,such as "falserecapitulations" in a the level of illocutionaryforce" (ibid., p. 86).
sonata-formmovement,or individualgestures,as in melodic 44. Portions of this paperhave been presentedat Pomona
lines playedon penny whistles in Haydn's"Toy"symphony. College, duringits 1992 Music DepartmentLecture Series,
38. In Emotion and Meaning in Music (University of and at the Second InternationalConferenceon Music Per-
Chicago Press, 1956), LeonardMeyerdiscusses this passage ception and Cognition (February 1992). I am grateful to
in terms of saturation:the repetitionsserve to arouseexpec- Lawrence Archbold, James Buhler, Brian Hyer, Gary
tation for change, and more repetitioncauses greaterexpec- Iseminger,KristinKnittel, and MatthewKramer,as well as
tation (p. 136). However,Meyer's explanationof this pas- three anonymous readers, for their comments on earlier
sage, based upon general principles of pattern perception drafts of this paper. I am especially grateful for the contin-
and cognition, does not consider it as a deliberateact on the uing commentsand criticismsof Betsey Buckheit. Research
partof Beethoven. The tension createdby Beethoven'swill- on this project was supported by a faculty development
ful melodic overstatementand its subsequentdeformation grant from Carleton College and by the Institute for Re-
from figure to grounddoes as much, if not more, to raise ex- search in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-
pectation(s) in the listener's mind as does the plain fact of Madison.