The Dawn of Music Semiology

The Dawn of Music Semiology

Essays in Honor of Jean-Jacques Nattiez

Edited by Jonathan Dunsby, Jonathan Goldman


University of Rochester Press



Showcases the energy and diversity of the young field of music semiology, appealing to readers who want to explore the meaning of music in our lives.
The Dawn of Music Semiology showcases the work of nine leading musicologists, inspired by the work of Jean-Jacques Nattiez, the founding father of music semiology. Now entering its fifth decade as Nattiez enters his eighth, music semiology, or music semiotics, is still a young, vibrant field, and this book reflects its energy and diversity. It appeals to readers wanting to explore the meaning of music in our lives and to understand the ways of appreciating the complexities that lie behind its simple beauty and direct impact on us.
Following a preface by Pierre Boulez and an introduction by the editors, nine chapters discuss the latest thinking about general considerations such as music and gesture, the psychology of music, and the role of ethnotheory. The volume offers new research on topics as diverse as modeling folk polyphony, spatialization in the Darmstadt repertoire, Schenker's theory of musical content, compositional modernism from Wagner to Boulez, current music theory terminology, and Maderna's use of folk music in serial composition.

CONTRIBUTORS: Kofi Agawu, Simha Arom, Rossana Dalmonte, Irène Deliège, Jonathan Dunsby, Jonathan Goldman, Nicolas Meeùs, Jean Molino, Arnold Whittall

Jonathan Dunsby is Professor of Music Theory at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester. Jonathan Goldman is Professor of Musicology at the University of Montreal.


60 line illustrations
228 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
Hardback, 9781580465625, February 2017
eBook, 9781782049180, February 2017
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS041000, MUS015000, LAN009000
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Table of Contents

Foreword: About Jean-Jacques Nattiez - Pierre Boulez
Introduction - Jonathan Dunsby and Jonathan Goldman
Music and Gesture - Jean Molino
Music Semiology in the Mind of the Musician - Jonathan Dunsby
Against Ethnotheory - Kofi Agawu
From Georgian to Medieval Polyphonies: Analysis and Modeling - Simha Arom
Schenker's Inhalt, Schenkerian Semiotics: A Preliminary Study - Nicolas Meeùs
Music under the Sign of Modernism: From Wagner to Boulez, and Britten - Arnold Whittall
Musical Borrowings in the Works of Bruno Maderna - Rossana Dalmonte
Of Doubles, Groups, and Rhymes: A Seriation of Works for Spatialized Orchestral Groups (1958-60) - Jonathan Goldman
The Psychological Organization of Music Listening: From Spontaneous to Learned Perceptive Processes - Irène Deliège
Selected Bibliography of Works by Jean-Jacques Nattiez
List of Contributors
Tabula Gratulatoria


An ambitious and valuable set of contributions.Agawu's "Against Ethnotheory" offers a compelling and eloquent critique of the will to difference upon which he claims ethnotheory is founded. Jonathan Goldman's [chapter] stands out through its eloquent prose, clarity of purpose, and thorough grounding. Irène Deliège's empirical study of segmentation and perception of musical form by musicians and nonmusicians is to be applauded for bringing together traditionally separated disciplines with much potential for mutual enrichment...[As the book's title suggests,] perhaps we have turned around to behold not the sunrise itself but the vast landscape that it illuminates. CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF MUSIC LIBRARIES REVIEW. Full review at

The Dawn of Semiology was a finalist for the Opus book prize (Canada).

[T]his book is a welcome and substantial contribution to semiological and semiology-inspired research, and a fitting veneration of its honoree's life's work (so far). CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF MUSIC LIBRARIES REVIEW

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