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20 AUGUST 2014

Musical sense-making and the concept of affordance: an ecosemiotic and experiential approach

"Is music something 'out there', a kind of structure or artefact, that can be dealt with in a static way? Or does it rely on processes which call forth interactions with the sounds? Should we conceive of music users besides the music, and think about music as something which is perceived, conceptualised and enacted upon in order to be meaningful? Is music an ontological category, or a sounding phenomenon that calls forth epistemic interactions with the sounds? And can music be considered as a sonic environment and the music user as an organism that generates music knowledge as a tool for adaptation to the sonic world?

These questions revolve around the ecological concept of coping with the (sonic) world (Reybrouck, 2001a, 2005a, b). Musical sense–making, in this view, can be addressed in terms of interactions with the sounds, both at the level of perception, action and mental processing. It is a position that broadens the scope of music research, encompassing all kinds of music and sounds, and going beyond any kind of cultural and historical constraints. Music, in this broadened view, is to be defined as a collection of sound/time phenomena which have the potential of being structured, with the process of structuring being as important as the structure of the music. As such, it is possible to transcend a merely structural description of the music in favour of a process–like description of the ongoing process of maintaining epistemic contact with the music as a sounding environment. A central focus, in this approach, is on the role of musical experience and the way how listeners make sense of music as it sounds (see Blacking, 1955; Määttänen, 1993; Reybrouck, 2004; Westerlund, 2002)."

(Mark Reybrouck, 2012)

Reybrouck, M. (2012). "Musical sense–making and the concept of affordance: an ecosemiotic and experiential approach". Biosemiotics, 5 (3), 391–409.


2012 • adaptive control • affordancesbiology • biosemiotic claims • Charles Sanders Peircecircularityconceptual framework • consummation • coping with the environment • cybernetics • ecological approach to perception • ecological psychology • ecosemiotic claims • empirical evidence • enactive cognition • epistemic interactions • epistemic interactions with sound • experiential cognition • formation of formfunctional significance • functional tone • interaction with the environmentinterdisciplinary focus • interpretant • Jakob von Uexkull • James GibsonJohn Deweylistening • Mark Reybrouck • music • musical behaviour • musical sense-making • neurobiological research • ontological category • operational description • perceptual phenomenonpragmatismsensemaking • sounding music • sounding phenomen • systemic cognition • William James


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