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The rhetoric of the shadow: a semiotic study of James Clarke's Isolation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 January 2016


A musical work can tell a story as beautifully as a work of literature can. In music we may not easily grasp the meaning of the story but there is nevertheless a fascination about its semantic potential. The type of narrative such a work expounds can be described as allegorical, because of the ambiguity of its semantic definition. We are free to interpret it in whatever ways we like, but one of the interests in a narrative is the way in which it encodes specific strategies of interpretation for the listener. As long as there is a story there are always characters involved who act as the reader, the narrator, and the author behind the work, regardless of whether they really exist as actual people. This discussion focuses around the role of the reader-listener: its aim is to show that the reader-listener's contribution is a fundamental element in understanding not only the process of narration but also the work's aesthetic scheme itself.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2001

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