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Musical Meaning
(Lawrence Kramer)

The problem of meaning stands at the forefront of recent thinking about music. Whether music has meaning, what kinds of meaning it may have, and for whom; the relationship of musical meaning to individual subjectivity, social life, and cultural context--these questions have inspired strong feelings and sharp debate. All of them undergo a fundamental transformation in Musical Meaning, which draws on a broad range of concepts and examples to rethink both how the questions are asked and how they are answered. The book starts from the premise that the problem of musical meaning is not just an intellectual puzzle, but a musical phenomenon in its own right. Focusing on the classical repertoire from Beethoven to Shostakovich, but also addressing jazz, popular music, and film and TV music, Musical Meaning uncovers the historical importance of asking about musical meaning, and above all of asking about it in and through music, in the lived experience of works, styles, and performances. The book celebrates meaning as a basic force in music history and an indispensable factor in how, where, and when music is heard. In the process, thinking about music begins to realize a potential rarely granted to it, that of becoming a vital means of thinking about general questions of meaning, subjectivity, and value.

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