My Research

Human communication is always multimedial/multimodal: words, images, gestures, music/sounds are all bound together in daily communication (e.g. books, lectures, face-to-face conversations, newspapers), and no computer is needed to combine them in the same (virtual) text. Nevertheless, traditional approaches (i.e. semiotics) tend to focus on one particular aspect at a time, giving priority to verbal language, while losing sight of the real goal: human communication in its complexity.

Crunched in the complexities of human communication, music is often the most neglected aspect. Even our musical experiences are somehow inadequate. Concerts in arenas, theatres or stadiums, Hi-Fi home-listening, car radios, portable reproducers such as iPods or iPhones, equally put us in a situation in which music is constantly de-contextualized and collocated in a perpetual quotation. Therefore, we are confined in a compulsive “regressed listening” determined by our impossibility to actually perceive all the significant elements of musical communication. Strange as it may sounds, music regains its original communicative function in those appearances that are commonly frowned upon by musicologists: audio-visual advertisings and muzak. In this panorama, films are the only exception, although musical analysis is generally shied away from film studies.

Music is a theme in most of my essays, and yet I only take the organized sounds as a starting point, as a manner of shifting the perspective on communication in a non-verbal language environment. Giving emphasis to marginal aspects of human communication (e.g. the role played by music in paintings or in comix; the orality seen through paintings; the problem of the Voice in contemporary compositions), I try to tackle both the neglected natural multimediality and multimodality of human communication, and the marginalization of music.

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Posted October 27, 2010 by Andrea Garbuglia