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Between Meaning and Meaningfulness – “Understanding” Anecdotal Music

Tatjana Böhme-Mehner

Tatjana Böhme-Mehner, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg


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During the last few years some impressive initiatives centring on the anecdotal music of Luc Ferrari have been implemented all over Europe, which tell us a lot about the difference between the concepts of meaning and meaningfulness in that kind of music and those in so-called ‘traditional’ music. The principle of (r)écouter, re-listening, as the basis of re-mixing, offers considerable input to the scientific debate on how to deal with the internal and external meaning of pre-existing sound in audio art.
In this paper the observational position of the re-mixer is introduced as a departure point, taking account of the fact that this position has to consider two kinds of ‘meaning’ – the anecdote itself, somehow taken from the real world, and the anecdote of anecdotal music. The somewhat provocative question therefore arises of whether meaning in audio art is generally only generated by the difference between the two, and whether this process of generating meaning is reproducible at the same level, as would be the case of a quote in the abstract world of traditional instrumental music. Finally, the paper asks when it might be useful to introduce the category of meaningfulness as a fixed term into the analysis. We ask polemically whether categories from the analysis of ‘note based’ music such as that of the quote are useful at all for anecdotal music. A quote is a quote is a quote – but is it anything else?

EMS12 Proceedings