The Semantics of Chinese Music
Analysing selected Chinese musical concepts
Music is a widely enjoyed human experience. It is, therefore, natural that we have wanted to describe, document, analyse and, somehow, grasp it in language. This book surveys a representative selection of musical concepts in Chinese language, i.e. words that describe, or refer to, aspects of Chinese music. Important as these musical concepts are in the language, they have been in wide circulation since ancient times without being subjected to any serious semantic analysis. The current study is the first known attempt at analysing these Chinese musical concepts linguistically, adopting the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach to formulate semantically and cognitively rigorous explications. Readers will be able to better understand not only these musical concepts but also significant aspects of the Chinese culture which many of these musical concepts represent. This volume contributes to the fields of cognitive linguistics, semantics, music, musicology and Chinese studies, offering readers a fresh account of Chinese ways of thinking, not least Chinese ways of viewing or appreciating music. Ultimately, this study represents trailblazing research on the relationship between language, culture and cognition.
[Cognitive Linguistic Studies in Cultural Contexts, 5] 2015. xv, 303 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins
Table of Contents
Tables and figures
2. "Where Have the Geese Gone?": Chinese concepts related to sonic experience
3. "Following one's intonation": Concepts related to musical articulation, interpretation and perception
4. Being "graceful", "well-moderated" and "restrained": Concepts related to emotional and aesthetic expressions of music
5. Interpreting Guqin Master Xu's "24 virtues" with NSM
Appendix I: Xi Shan Qin Kuang 溪山琴況 'The State of Guqin Art of the Xi Shan School'
“This is an eye-opening account of Chinese ways of thinking and talking about music, and by implication, possible ways of thinking and talking about music in general. Musicology and linguistics meet in this book in a way they have never done before. Original and ground-breaking.”
Anna Wierzbicka, Australian National University
“A delightful book! It offers a practical and interesting methodology to probe how Chinese think and talk about their music. Chinese talk/write a lot about their music!”
Joseph S.C. Lam, University of Michigan
“For centuries, the essential qualities of Chinese music hinged on the rising, falling, winding and turning of sound and non-sound elements. Non-sound, according to linguist and musicologist Adrian Tien, includes silence, interruptions and rests, as well as the ebb of sounds as they fall towards nothingness. Non-sound was as integral to music as the white space in a work of calligraphy. Tien observes that it was “expected of even the introductory beholder to hear beyond the sonic form”. Listening was not primarily about the ear: it required a freeing of the mind so that other non-sensory stimuli could be perceived.”
Madeleine Thien, in The Guardian, 8 July 2016
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Subjects & Metadata
BIC Subject: CF/2GDC – Linguistics/Chinese
BISAC Subject: LAN009000 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General