Semiotics of Music

Topics: Music, Rock music, Musical notation Pages: 7 (2303 words) Published: October 18, 2012
Semiotics of Music: Analysis of White Room by Cream

In western today, there are two major types of music that prevail. On the one hand, there is classical music, choir music generally performed by solo artists. On the other hand, there is popular music or rock music performed by rock groups. This article provides a detailed semiotic analysis of “white room” by Cream in the 1968. The period, after the 1940-1950 eras, was when rock’ n roll began to take shape (Anthony Gribin & Matthew Schiff, 1992) Musical semiotics is essentially a new concept of musical analysis. Also it is very subjective. Although it can be applied to all forms of music, it is best used on dance and program music. (Semiotics analysis, 2009) Therefore, in considering the complexity and the importance of expression of this recording, I will not be concerned only with the patterns of musical structure and its surrounding complex of symbolic values and activities. I will also consider the need not only of semiotic concepts and paramusical fields of connotation in this recording analysis, and the needs to locate and discuss around two musemes. According to Wikipedia, a museme is a minimal unit of musical meaning. A musemes may be broken down into component parts which are not in themselves meaningful within the framework of the musical language (Tagg 1979, p.71). The museme is the basic element of musical expression or musical message that is generally understood by audience who are associated with the culture background. That means musical structure that conveys these music expressions. Essentially, semiotic analysis provides neither clear criteria for identifying musemes nor rules for segmenting music notation to isolate musemes. (Garry Tamlyn, 2009) Therefore, the paper aims to analysis of “white room” by Cream. To identify three musemes and each museme will be locate two example of comparison material. To make sure music structures are received within the culture and society that produces them. Consequently, to figure out how the music is interpreted by listeners and what is the musical communication. Also to discuss some structure of and to propose some theories which may contribute towards the establishment of a semiotics of music.

Paramusical fields of connotation
The single ‘white Room’, by Cream, in the 1960s, was a huge hit single for a group whose music was original and definitive at the time. The graphics of a “White Room” cover below shows sartorial aspects of band members during that time.

Link with the rock development culture, this CD cover clear to represented a new style of musical expression. Compare this to the 1950’s group Bill Haley and “The Comets”, the CD cover also shows below:

Firstly, we could take sartorial aspects for example; rock music and fashion have been inextricably linked. It could produce a huge influenced with generation of young people. During the 1950’s, all group members wore suits, the suit having a fashionable cut and colour at the time. This was not considered unusual, or particularly noticeable, as it was the style worn by mainstream society at the time. Rock music had its beginnings around this time. Although audiences were focusing on the new style of music in 1950’s, as symbolized by Bill Haley and the Comets, above, its sartorial aspects had not changed. As rock music genres become more segmented, what an artist wore become as important as the music itself in defining an artist’s intent and relationship to the audience (Martin Ledang, Pal Aasda,2008). As we turn to the 1960’s, rock group members began to wear jeans and suit jackets. These changes in sartorial aspects were concurrent with the development of rock music,and was part of the culture expression of rock music. In addition, this culture expression had close relationships with performance musical expression and audience emotional expression, such as paramusical sound and movement. Response data gained from audience...
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