Sound as Material or the Sign and Meaning of Music


  • Ivo Supičić



According to Hegel, sound and music are essentially identical. However, the effect of music does not only depend on sound as an element to be used by music, but also on its concrete contents. The nature of sound as an object does not come into question in music, but sound has pre-eminence in music as subject or material. This ontological priority does not exclude the quality of sound as a symbol, although its characterisation is strictly limited to the field of its inherent possibilities for characterisation. Musical utterance is not only specified by its use of special material, sound, but also by the fact that, in distinction to non-artistic means of expression, it finds its justification and sense only as an aesthetic manifestation. A musical work, neither expressive nor programmatic, does not have only sound or sonority as its subject matter, nor their exclusively physical production, their characterisation or expression as such for its highest aim, but its own aesthetic structure. However, this must not exclude, but can include, specific musical characterisation and expression. Although we must differentiate clearly between the musical and the extra-musical sense of a work, these two concepts cannot be separated. The aesthetic value of music is paramount to its value in characterisation and expression. Only a sythesis of these two values can give a perfect artistic sense to expressive music.


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How to Cite

Supičić, I. (1973). Sound as Material or the Sign and Meaning of Music. Musicological Annual, 9(1), 108–117.