Symbolic elements in music: Facets and forms
This paper presents the original meaning of the concept of symbol, as this appears in the relevant bibliography, in relation with the concept of metaphor. Then, variations and alternative meanings of this concept are sought within a musical-historical framework, which proportionally emerge through music. For this investigation, the broad categorization of symbols that Hegel produced is used. According to this there are two kinds of symbols. The ones with a “partial harmonization between form and meaning”, meaning the “conventional” or “public” symbols, where the meaning with which they are used is contained within their form. The others are the symbols with a “partial incongruity between form and meaning”, the “private or personal” ones, in which the content is irrelevant to their form. To the first group correspond music symbols whose function is close to imitation and description, like music painting, imitative symbols, visual symbols, etc. To the second kind correspond musical symbols whose content is unreal and abstract, therefore identified through hints, or combinations with various benchmarks outside music. This deeper concept and function of a symbol was gained during the romantic period, as a result of the aesthetics of the time.