Ep5. Can music represent?
“THE REPRESENTATIVE FUNCTION OF SOUND — Auditory as well as visual sensations are nearly always interpreted as symbols of external events, and heard music will invariably represent the tonal sources and the motions of musical performance, in a symbolism present to everyone but the performer himself. Both static and dynamic entities may be conveyed symbolically: music may be dominated by an unchanging reference for as long as the symbolization lasts, sometimes for an entire composition, or it may take advantage of its unfolding nature and present us with a moving and developing object. Thus the basic representative symbolism of sense perception does not mean only that the sound of a trumpet represents a trumpet — that musical sounds symbolize singers and instruments — but also that the particular sounds of any given trumpet passage represent a trumpet being played in some particular fashion. From the dynamic point of view, music is the symbol of a series of events: of a succession of tensions and efforts and motions.”
Bibliography on Music and Representation
Hagberg, Garry L. “"Mimesis" and Abstract Art.” Philosophy 59 (1984): 365.
- Does non-representational art itself constitute a refutation of any theory of art based upon mimesis or imitation? Intuitions regarding this question seem to support an affirmative answer: it appears impossible to account for abstract and non-representational art in terms of imitation because to put the problem simply, if nothing is copied in a work of art, then there can be nothing essentially imitative about it. The very notion of abstract imitative art seems self-contradictory.
- Edward A. Lippman, The Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1999. p. 5. .