Lodewijk Muns musicologist, author, musician

Classical Music and the Language Analogy

Ph.D. Dissertation, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2014

Is music, in some sense, similar to language? The question takes on a special meaning when we speak of Classical Music — music of the later 18th and early 19th centuries. The idea that music is some kind of language has become central to the aesthetics of the age.

Despite the fundamental differences between both, this analogy is not merely a manner of speaking. Music can borrow features from language. To identify these features we need to take a closer look at both, and face the fact that language is still one of the greatest and most controversial riddles of everyday life.

By taking a historical perspective, viewing both music and language as accomplishments of human culture, many features come into relief that tend to get lost in a quest for timeless essences.

Abstract (pdf)Table of Contents (pdf)