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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 49, Issue 1/2, 2021

Juha Ojala
Pages 86-107

Music as a non-arbitrary avenue for exploration of the social

The article examines how music affords exploration of social aspects of semiosis: how music signifies the social, beyond the fact that music is an inherently participatory social process. Pentti Maattanen extends Peirce’s notion of ‘hard fact’ to ‘soft facts’ to which we accommodate our behaviour in order to get along in society. As mutual beliefs, soft facts are continuously tested and updated in inquiry. Representation of oneself is also continuously correlated, thrown together, with that of the rest of the world, yielding positioning of self in ways we call emotions. In music, compositions of sound constitute hard facts that stand for other facts, soft or hard, by being their metaphors. Shaping and reshaping music allows for safe playing and testing of acts and events, anticipating upcoming situations and changes through virtual situations of the world, social and non-social. Music analysis examines how features of sound offer complex ways of constructing and interpreting metaphors, and how the narratives in music unfold through presentation of metaphors of subjects’ existence, identity and relations, evoking dialogue, drama, tension, even crises to be resolved.

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