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Welcome to JMM9!

Introducing a New Format for The Journal of Music and Meaning

It is with pleasure that we present a new format for JMM: The Journal of Music and Meaning, a format we will continue to develop during the next months. As opposed to the old version of JMM, the new website makes it possible to publish individual articles as they become camera-ready. Each entry will, however, still be formally assigned to a specific volume of the journal. We hope you will enjoy reading!

Through Thick and Thin: The Ontology of Tape Music

Peer-Reviewed Papers Posted on Jan 12, 2011 14:52:51

The ontology of music is a lively and much debated branch of metaphysical philosophy. Most of the available literature focuses upon works of the Western classical tradition, however; as a result, the various challenges posed by tape compositions are either marginalised or ignored. Coupled with this is the familiar claim by some musicologists and philosophers that such works cannot be described as being music; one such philosopher, Linda Ferguson, claimed that tape compositions are ontologically distinct from scored musical works and, as a result, are “in search of their metaphysics” (Ferguson 1983). This paper will address such claims through an investigation of the ontology of tape music. It will be argued that such works share their metaphysical status with scored compositions and that the various differences can be ascribed to the “extent, depth, and saturation of their work-determinative properties” (Davies 2004: 26-27). Ultimately, it will be noted that there are some significant differences between these two art forms. Tape music is not “in search of its metaphysics”, however; it is merely lacking an accurate philosophical assessment.

The author, Adam Stansbie is a Senior Lecturer in Music, Sound and Performance at Leeds Metropolitan University. He completed his first degree at the University of Leeds and is currently completing a PhD in Electroacoustic Composition at City University, London, under the supervision of Professor Denis Smalley. Adam’s musical works have been presented at festivals and concerts throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America and Australasia and have won a number of international awards; these include a Residency Prize at the Bourges International Competition, France (2006), First Prize (Category A) in the International Acousmatic Competition ‘Metamorphosis’, Belgium (2006) and First Prize in the Destellos Competition, Argentina (2010). In recent years, Adam has worked in various prestigious European studios (including the IMEB, France (2007,2008), Musiques et Recherchés, Belgium (2009), VICC, Sweden (2010) and USSS, UK (2010)); during these placements, he has sought to integrate his creative practice with his written work on the ontological and phenomenological status of electroacoustic composition and performance.

Read Adam Stansbie’s article here

Meaningful Scribbles: An Approach to Textual Analysis of Unconventional Musical Notations

Peer-Reviewed Papers Posted on Jan 04, 2011 12:53:40

This paper draws upon recent studies of writing systems, buttressed with material drawn from general linguistics and semiotics, to develop an approach to the analysis of musical notation as a system of signification in its own right (as opposed to a mere representation of musical sound). Scores are herein understood, following Nicholas Wolterstorff’s formulation in his paper “Towards an Ontology of Artworks” (1975), as “a record of the artist’s determination of correctness-conditions.” Our analysis must, then, provide a clear explication of the means by which these conditions are communicated – even where these means are not readily understood as drawing on any known signifying convention. With this in mind, the method of analysis is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate any notated document purporting to be a musical score regardless of the particular notational conventions used. A description of the relevant linguistic and semiotic terminology and its uses is followed by a discussion of their application to the study of elements of standard notational practice. A sequence of steps, through which the analysis of an unconventional “graphic score” is to proceed and by which musical meanings are to be assigned to the score’s markings, is presented. This sequence is illustrated through a progressive sample case that offers a range of possible musical interpretations for variations on a simple notation of the author’s devising. Finally, a discussion of the possibilities for evaluating unconventional notations, once musical meanings have been ascribed to all markings within the score, will be undertaken with reference to John Cage’s “Variations I”.

The author, Douglas C. Wadle is adjunct professor of music theory and analysis at the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied composition with the late James Tenney. He also holds degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles (ethnomusicology), and New York University (comparative literature). Wadle is an active composer and performer (on trombone) of contemporary and experimental music.

Read Douglas C. Wadle’s article here

Luciano Berio’s “Sequenza V” Analyzed along the Lines of Four Analytical Dimensions Proposed by the Composer

Peer-Reviewed Papers Posted on Jan 04, 2011 12:44:06

In this paper, Luciano Berio’s Sequenza V for solo trombone is analyzed along the lines of four analytical dimensions proposed by the composer himself in an interview from 1980.

It is argued that the piece in general can be interpreted as an exploration of the ‘morphological’ dimension involving transformation of the traditional image of the trombone as an instrument as well as of the performance context. The first kind of transformation is revealed by simultaneous singing and playing, continuous sounds and considerable use of polyphony, indiscrete pitches, plunger, flutter-tongue technique, and unidiomatic register, whereas the latter manifests itself in extra-musical elements of theatricality, especially with reference to clown acting. Such elements are evident from performance notes and notational practice, and they originate from biographical facts related to the compositional process and to Berio’s sources of inspiration. Key topics such as polyphony, amalgamation of voice and instrument, virtuosity, theatricality, and humor – of which some have been recognized as common to the Sequenza series in general – are explained in the context of the analytical model.

As a final point, a revised version of the four-dimensional model is presented in which tension-inducing characteristics in the ‘pitch’, ‘temporal’ and ‘dynamic’ dimensions are grouped into ‘local’ and ‘global’ components to avoid tension conflicts within dimensions. Furthermore, in the ‘morphological’ dimension a distinction is made between transformation of ‘instrumental idiomatics’ and of the ‘performance context’. Hence, the revised model accounts for theatricality and performance without failing to realize the increasing transformation of the instrumental idiom which constitutes a key aspect of the musical meaning communicated in this piece.

The author, Niels Chr. Hansen is a graduate student of music theory at Royal Academy of Music Aarhus (, Denmark, and an MSc student in Music, Mind & Brain at Goldsmiths College, University of London (, UK. Furthermore, he holds a BA in classical piano and music theory. In 2008/09 Niels Chr. Hansen studied as an exchange at the Conservatory and University of Amsterdam. His primary research interests include music theory, analysis, ethnomusicology, and music cognition. He is a member of the “Music in the Brain Group” in Aarhus and has assisted on scientific projects at the Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience ( He has previously contributed to this journal (JMM6) and also presented his research at conferences in Denmark, Belgium, and The Netherlands. As a pianist Niels Chr. Hansen has participated in numerous master classes and given concerts in Denmark, Sweden, Poland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Latvia, and Italy. In 2006-08 Niels Chr. Hansen was the president of the National Board of Music Students in Denmark ( organizing the national humanitarian event ‘Day of Music’ in 2007 and 2008 (


Read Niels Chr. Hansen’s article here