Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 04 June 2020

Semiotics [semiology] (from Gk. Sēmeion: ‘Sign’)locked

  • Naomi Cumming

Extract

[semiology] (from Gk. Sēmeion: ‘Sign’)

The science of signs.

Two thinkers may be credited with developing this study in the 20th century. Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913), who used the term ‘semiology’, instigated a systematic approach to the study of language, based on the observation of binary contrasts as constitutive of the ‘meaning’ of units at any level of generality. The signifying unit, or ‘signifier’, does not bear any intrinsic relationship to the object or idea that forms its ‘signified’ content. This content is purely arbitrary and is determined by the relationship of the term to others, in binary pairs. ‘Bit’ and ‘Bat’, for example, are distinguished by the binary contrast of their vowels. Saussure’s manner of analysing language as a relatively stable system of such contrasts, existing synchronically, contrasts with the ‘diachronic’ or historically-based approach to word meaning found in traditional philology. His further distinction between ‘langue’ and ‘parole’ is based on the assumption that a synchronic system (...

You do not currently have access to this article

Login

Please login to access the full content.

Subscribe

Please subscribe to access the full content.

Music Analysis
Journal of the Royal Musical Association
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Revue de musicologie
Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning
Yearbook for Traditional Music
International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music
Hudební veda
Sovetskaya muzïka