Layers of Musical Meaning
Distributed for Museum Tusculanum Press
This book is a radical attempt to explain musical meaning as the complex fabric of tension and relaxation resulting from the courses of the individual musical elements: e.g. rhythm, where the musical tension manifests itself by the opposition between strong and weak beats – or harmony, where the chords of the tonal cadence generate courses of tension and relaxation.
It is strongly emphasized that the total structure of contributors to the web of tension/relaxation, in short, the musical style, is constantly changing, and it is an error to believe that any musical way of articulation is eternal: new ways of expression arrive and others drop out gradually – precisely as with ordinary language. This consideration, however, implies that too many and radical changes over a short period of time are foredoomed to go over the head of the ordinary listener. The radical modernism of the 1950s illustrates how composers in their endeavour to wipe the slate clean in order to start from scratch largely failed.
Attempts at semantic interpretations of music are rejected. Such interpretations belong to the private sphere and cannot be scholarly supported. No hermeneutic interpretation, however elaborate, can claim higher truth value than another.