The signifying voice
Materiality and sociality in language and music
Drawing on a social semiotic framework, this paper sets out to examine two different semiotic systems whose default mode of expression is the human voice – language and music. Through comparing how each system differentially employs the human voice, we can identify both their commonalities and differences, and go some way to treating both equally within de Saussure’s envisaged broader field of “semiology”, avoiding the common trap of “linguistic imperialism”, i.e. taking language as the model for all semiotic systems. Starting by conceptualising the key relationship between the text, or unified instance of meaning-making, and the social contexts in which it functions, the paper then examines the material affordances utilised by each system, and the kinds of social meanings they express.
Keywords: voice, music, language, meaning, affordances, semiology, embodied, social semiotic, metafunction, stratification
Published online: 24 February 2021
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