Music as Multimodal Discourse: Semiotics, Power and Protest

Lyndon C. S. Way (Editor), Simon McKerrell (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportAnthology/Edited Book


We communicate multimodally. Everyday communication involves not only words, but gestures, images, videos, sounds and of course, music. Music has traditionally been viewed as a separate object that we can isolate, discuss, perform and listen to. However, much of music's power lies in its use as multimodal communication. It is not just lyrics which lend songs their meaning, but images and musical sounds as well. The music industry, governments and artists have always relied on posters, films and album covers to enhance music's semiotic meaning.

Music as Multimodal Discourse: Semiotics, Power and Protest considers musical sound as multimodal communication, examining the interacting meaning potential of sonic aspects such as rhythm, instrumentation, pitch, tonality, melody and their interrelationships with text, image and other modes, drawing upon, and extending the conceptual territory of social semiotics. In so doing, this book brings together research from scholars to explore questions around how we communicate through musical discourse, and in the discourses of music. Methods in this collection are drawn from Critical Discourse Analysis, Social Semiotics and Music Studies to expose both the function and semiotic potential of the various modes used in songs and other musical texts. These analyses reveal how each mode works in various contexts from around the world often articulating counter-hegemonic and subversive discourses of identity and belonging.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
Number of pages256
ISBN (Print)9781474264426
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

Publication series

NameAdvances in Semiotics


  • music
  • multimodal communication
  • musical discourse


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