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Musical MeaningToward a Critical History$
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Lawrence Kramer

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520228245

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520228245.001.0001

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The Voice of Persephone

The Voice of Persephone

Musical Meaning and Mixed Media

(p.173) 8 The Voice of Persephone
Musical Meaning

Lawrence Kramer

University of California Press

This chapter aims at addressing the question that what can be learned about mixed media from the phenomenon of musical meaning. It suggests that musical meaning always exceeds its specification by mixed media, but in a way that vitally supports what it exceeds and helps position mixed media, in the general communicative economy. The question of how music bears on meaning in mixed media is examined. Music added to text or image adds its dynamism and body to their semantic value, but the musical remainder, again through the force of interpretive desire, works against the semantic tendency toward closure and completion. The remainder makes sure that musical meaning overruns the semantic borders set out for it and set out for the mixed-media work as a whole. Mixture is not the same thing as assortment. For there to be mixture, a boundary must be crossed. Assortments gather signs from different media into a kind of general signifying environment that to some degree exceeds and obscures the contribution of its components. Mixed media require a more structured, more potentially problematic interaction. Music is almost always part of a mixture; a something added or blended into another circumstance, the source of a solution, suspension, or precipitate. The percephonic voice is a personification of the remainder in its most active, desire-invested form. It is a figure whose significance lies somewhere between its concrete form as a trope and its symptomatic relation to an underlying process of acculturation and subject formation.

Keywords:   musical meaning, assortments, Persephone, mixed media, remainder, semantic borders, mixture

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