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Music

  • By: Carl Schimmel
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Music is a culturally conditioned means of communication through sound. Although music is often vocal, a chief distinction between nonvocal music and language is that music without a text is primarily connotative rather than denotative in nature. Instrumental music’s meaning is therefore often more elusive than that of language, and interpretations of a given musical expression may be widely divergent even among informed listeners within a culture. The complex and imprecise meaning of music, and its connection to the emotions and physical expression, perhaps explain its traditional importance in all human cultures.

Because music is a significant means of communication like language, musicians and composers are able to convey humor through musical gesture and structure. Music of most traditions relies heavily on pattern recognition and the ...

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