KEYNOTE: Emotion and Music – A Social-Semiotic Approach
In contemporary consumer culture, people are believed to act primarily on the basis of emotion. Marketers use ‘sentiment analysis’ to mine data for expressions of emotion, and increasingly seek biometric ways of measuring emotion that will bypass the linguistic mediation of emotion through surveys, focus groups and interviews. Asked for feedback, we are constantly asked to ‘like’ or not, never to agree or disagree, or to assess something as true or false.
It is therefore not surprising that many discourse analysts have also become interested in the expression of emotion, but somewhat disappointing that they have often turned to neo-Darwinian and psychological discourses which do not recognize that emotion is influenced by social and cultural contexts, and, as often as not, performed rather than welling up spontaneously. This paper will use a social semiotic approach that focuses first of all on semiotic resources for the performance of emotion and their histories, and secondly on the uses of these resources in specific contexts, and on the normative discourses that structure them. It will describe the development of signifiers of emotion in Western music during the past 300 years and analyze the normative discourses that surround the performance of emotion in a range genres of film music and ambient music. The paper will end by outlining how this approach can also be applied to linguistic and visual expressions of emotion.
WORKSHOP: Analyzing Musical Discourse
This workshop will be a hands-on analysis of the contribution of music to the construction of reality in documentary films. The meaning potential and realization of a small number of analytical parameters will be explained, after which participants will analyze an excerpt from First Australians, a series of seven documentaries which chronicles the impact of colonization on Aboriginal culture and people, and discuss what music contributes to the representation of history in the excerpt.