You are currently viewing SMA Zoom Colloquium – Nicolas Meeùs, « Once Again, Schenkerian Semiotic », 4 April 2024

Once Again, Schenkerian Semiotic 

4 April 2024 – 6:30PM (GMT)

SMA Zoom Colloquium

Society for Music Analysis


Although the importance of a Schenkerian semiotics has been noted more than forty years ago (Jonathan Dunsby and John Stopford, 1981), and although the importance of Schenkerian analysis for a semiotic approach to music has been stressed, e.g. by Kofi Agawu (Playing with Signs, 1991) or Robert Snarrenberg (Schenker’s Interpretive Practice, 1997), Schenker’s own semiotic views on music may not enough have been considered. In this talk, I will comment on two aspects. The first is Schenker’s continued interest, from Der Geist der musikalischen Technik (1895) to Der freie Satz (1935), for the relation (and the opposition) between music and verbal language. The second is the importance that Schenker gave to the musical signification, which he considered non-referential, intrinsic – Agawu, after Jakobson, described this as “introversive semiosis.” Following a long tradition of German philosophy and esthetics, from Kant and Hegel to Hanslick, Schenker called the intrinsic meaning of music its “content” (Inhalt), and discussed it in many of his writings.


Nicolas Meeùs is Professor emeritus in Sorbonne University, where he taught music analysis, music theory and its history, from 1995 to 2013, after having been for twenty years Researcher, then Curator in the Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments. He is the French translator of Schenker’s Der freie Satz and he created in the Sorbonne the class of Schenkerian analysis. Website: [].

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