Music as Attribute

Idea, Image, Sound

Authored by: Philip Weller

The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415629256
eBook ISBN: 9780203629987
Adobe ISBN: 9781135956462


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To whom, or what, can the distinctive qualities and characteristics of music be attributed? What type of idea (or person, or event) deserves the epithet “musical,” and why? And conversely, how should we attempt by visual means to convey or connote the musical, whether as experience or as object? Through what visual cues or attributes, adroitly deployed by the artist, can musical ideas or experiences be evoked? These questions and others like them serve to make the important point that the “question of attribution” goes both ways. On the one hand we may ask: What types of visual device are able to connote music, and how do they work? What kinds of vocabulary and concepts best aid the viewer in his or her response to depictions of musical subjects? And on the other hand: To what kinds of phenomena, objects, individuals, or contexts do we attribute musical characteristics in the first place, and why?

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