Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Musical topics have invited comparison with language ever since Leonard Ratner adopted the rhetorical term topos. Yet topic theory has not addressed the “double articulation” of language: while words function as meaningful signs, they are articulated by meaningless elements, what Louis Hjelmslev referred to collectively as “figurae.” This chapter develops an analogous theory of topical figurae, structural features that articulate multiple topics but do not themselves signify topically, adapting concepts from phonology (deletion, markedness, assimilation, neutralization). The musical analyses explore both the semantic and syntactic implications of topical figurae, focusing on Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony and Mozart’s Piano Sonata in F major, K. 332. Embedded equally in the musical structure and the topical code, figurae bridge the gap between formal analysis and cultural hermeneutics and can lead to a more holistic understanding of topical meaning.

Keywords: articulation, assimilation, deletion, figurae, markedness, neutralization, syntax, semantics

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.