More Musicological Thoughts

I gave a musicology lecture the other days which focused on a number of techniques introduced by musicologist Phil Tagg. They are

Sonic Anaphone: Where the music extract resembles what it represents.For example motorbike sounds. For me this is similar to Charles Pierce’s ‘Icon’.

Kinetic Anaphone: Where the sound represents movement. For example here is an example of a piece that sounds like a moving train.

Tactile Anaphone: Where the sounds represents touch. For example soft string sounds or a gravelly voice.

Genre Synecdoche: Where a small aspect of the mix alludes to a larger genre. For example the following track by Shakti is not just a mix of european and Indian music – but alludes to the whole culture of latter also.

Episodic Marker: Where a musical sound or texture informs the listener that a new section in a piece of music is about to occur. This could be a drum fill, a guitar slide etc.

In the lecture we also examined Intentional or Extensional aspects of performance: essentially is the meaning of a piece of music related to a score (extensional) – or is musician interaction more important. Here is a great example of Pink Floyd involved in the latter.

Finally, we examined the ways in which time and place can impact a performance or recording. For example places such as Headley Grange (Led Zep) and Joe Meek’s recordings at 304 Holloway Rd – how did they impact the creative process and the sound of the recording.

Anyway – I would love to hear any indicative examples of these techniques.





About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
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17 Responses to More Musicological Thoughts

  1. Harry Tadayon says:

    I suppose this would be a good example of a Sonic Anaphone. The guitarist (Herman Li) is using the whammy bar on his guitar to create elephant noises along with video game noises and the motorbike. Bit over the top, but they’re pretty good examples!


  2. Mike Despres says:

    Sonic Anaphone-

    There are many here but I think the ‘Pacman’ one is the best.


  3. Sonic Anaphone- War by Joe Satriani (Intro sounds like some sort of siren, played on guitar)

    Kinetic Anaphone- Trains and Winter Rains by Enya (The pizzicato/ detached feel to the underlying instrumentation gives the feel of a train moving).
    Jimi Hendrix- Crosstown Traffic- Kazoo gives the image of car horns (Traffic).

    Tactile Anaphone- North by Paul Mounsey (Legato violin and vocals)

    Genre Synecdoche- Our Day Will Come by Amy Winehouse- Beats on the 2nd and 4th elude to a kind of reggae feel.
    Wonderous Place- The Last Shadow Puppets (The Doors esque, very 60s feel).

    Episodic Marker- Black Waves/Bad Vibrations by Arcade Fire (Rallentando and Change to relative MINOR from MAJOR at around 1:32)


  4. Anonymous says:

    Apologies for the late comment, I’ve had a hectic week…

    Sonic Anaphone
    As soon as this was mentioned, I thought of this… I don’t know why and I’m not sure if many people will agree with me… but at 4.12 the bass slides up to a note and holds it temporarily, perhaps to make it sound like the “mooing” of a cow/bull… I’ve always thought it was intentional, but maybe its just me reading too far into it! haha –
    Bulls on Parade – Rage Against the Machine

    Kinetic Anaphone
    Another train example unfortunately, couldnt find anything else… The percussion (shaker/tamborine) resembling a train, also connecting with the title.
    Station Approach – Elbow (starts at 0:47)

    Tactile Anaphone
    Use of an actual tray of gravel to represent walking. If you haven’t heard Meilir, he’s really good, plays in Cardiff a lot, he’s amazing. Massive influence of mine. All his stuff’s on Soundcloud too, some a bit less “unusual” that this.
    Bydd Wych – Meilir

    Genre Synecdoche
    Caravan Palace combine Gypsy Folk/Jazz/Electronic Music. It’s amazing
    Star Scat – Caravan Palace

    Episodic Marker
    I thought of dance music when this was mentioned, like when there’s a “Drop” in a song there’s usually signs to indicate this is about to happen. Unlike some artists who use a gradual build up of texture, London Elektricity indicates a drop through a drop in dynamics before the “drop”
    Yikes! – London Elektricity


  5. Benjamin Franks says: motorbike sound 6 mins 12 meatloaf, bat out of hell


  6. Simon Parton says:

    Apologies for the late comment, I’ve had a hectic week!

    Sonic Anaphone
    Rage Against The Machine – Bulls On Parade
    At 4.12 the bass slides up to a note that may resemble the sound of a bull “mooing”

    Kinetic Anaphone
    Elbow – Station Approach
    Another Train Example – Percussion (Tamborine/Shaker)

    Tactile Anaphone
    Meilir – Bydd Wych
    Great Artist, If you havent heard Meilir’s stuff i strongly recommend you check him out, his EPs should be on Soundcloud. He uses a tray of gravel as percussion in this one, representing walking.

    Genre Synecdoche
    Caravan Palace – Star Scat
    Combining Gypsy Folk/Jazz/Electronic Music. This is wicked.

    Episodic Marker.
    London Elektricity – Billion Dollar Gravy
    I thought of dance music when this was mentioned, as the music usually gears the listener’s up for a “drop” by building texture and the number of hits from the kit/percussion, to indicate a drop, however London Elektricity builds texture, then decreased texture to almost nothing before the “drop” at 0.53

    Apologies if this posts twice, I lost the first draft and it may come up later.


  7. Benjamin Franks says: Kraftwerk, trans Europe Express, sounds like movement and a train too


  8. Simon Parton says:

    … That Herman Li video ^ is ridiculous! haha!


  9. Harry Tadayon says:

    Yeah it is Simon! This is another example of a sonic anaphone. Steve Vai’s ‘Bad Horsie’ showcases Vai using the combination of a whammy bar and Wah-wah pedal to create what sounds kind of like a horse whinny, along with the stomp of the bass and drums kind of reminding me of horse hooves.


  10. Phil Johncock says:

    Sonic Anaphone:
    ACDC – Jailbreak: At 2:57 the Bon Scott gives a narration describing a man attempting to breaking out of jail. “heartbeats” is alluded to through the off beat guitar rhythm, “spotlights” (as if tracking back and forth) through the bending of the quitar note, “sirens” through dissonant, fast strumming, “rifles” (i’m not sure how guitarists make this sound)

    Kinetic Anaphone:
    Muse – Knights Of Cydonia: Drums, synths and palm muted guitar at 0:49 gives the impression of galloping horses.

    Tactile Anaphone:
    Enya – On Your Shore: Soft synths and soothing voice allude to a calm sea

    Genre Synecdoche:
    The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows: harmonic structure derived from Indian music and based on a tamboura playing a C drone.

    Episodic Marker:
    Kasabian – Fire: Movement from verse into chorus -shift from crotchets to quavers, different level of vocals, drum fill.


  11. Claire Laurenson says:

    Could be an example of Genre Synecdoche – at around 4.05, German operatic vocals are introduced, and they kind of stick out from the rest of the song and don’t really fit with the genre of the band. Having said that the band’s genre has been described as ‘experimental’, since they mess around with different genres and styles quite a lot. Around 4.00 you can also hear a short excerpt of acoustic guitar that sounds kind of Spanish in style. The very end of the piece changes and to me, it kind of represents movement – though despite the title I don’t think it sounds much like a procession.


  12. Steffan Hughes says:

    Sonic Anaphone: Space Oddity –Bowie. The guitar with heavy reverb and a whammy bar attempts to resemble the space ship taking off.

    Kinetic Anaphone: Crosstown Traffic- Hendrix. At the beginning there is some extreme panning from left to right in the mix to show the movement of the traffic to an onlooker.

    Tactile Anaphone: A great example of an artist with a gravelly voice would be Kelly Jones. The example I was forward would be Handbags & Gladrags. Especially the chorus.

    Genre Synecdoche: Within You Without You- The Beatles. After spending months in India, the band returned with an interest in the genre and was keen to play some Indian music on the Sgt. Pepper album.

    Episodic Marker: An obvious example would be the drum fill in ‘In The Air’- Phil Collins. But another idea I would put forward would be any song that plays a dominant 7th chord that finally resolves to the tonic.


  13. Ben Roach says:

    Sonic Anaphone

    An example of where this technique is utilized can be found in the song ‘Estranged’ by Guns N’ Roses. At about 7.45 into the video, Slash uses the Stradivarius technique to emulate dolphin/whale sounds.

    Kinetic Anaphone

    In the chorus of ‘Helter Skelter’ by the Beatles the descending riff gives the impression of sliding (i.e. down a helter skelter).

    Tactile Anaphone

    Arguably, the tender, ‘lullaby-esque’ vocals in the song ‘Porcelain’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers represent not only a close proximity, but also the fragility of porcelain.

    Genre Synecdoche

    In the song ‘The Unknown Soldier’ by The Doors, the bridge section alludes to the music of military bands. Additionally, there is a sonic anaphone in the form of an amplifier (laden with excessive reverb) being dropped to resemble the sound of a rifle shot.

    Episodic Marker

    Feel like I’m cheating slightly with this example, but in the song “Crosstown Traffic’ by Jimi Hendrix the repeating motif (appearing at the very beginning of the song, which was referred to in our presentation as resembling the sound of a car engine) signals the beginning of each chorus.


  14. Evija Dreimane says:

    Sonic Anaphone
    Chambers Brothers – Time Has Come Today
    The Cuckoo Clock – clock ticking and call of cuckoo. (Connecting with the title)

    Kinetic Anaphone
    The Beatles – A Day in the Life
    The clock ticking – Is time/space moving or a person is moving in time/space? Second half of the song resembles morning – getting out of the bed, in this case realising you have slept in etc.

    Tactile Anaphone
    Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek
    Smooth Synth, Vocals.

    Genre Synecdoche
    Roy Harper – When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease
    Roy Harper is English folk/rock singer-songwriter and guitarist, but the orchestral accompaniment is an example of the genre synecdoche.

    Episodic Marker
    Modestep – To The Stars (or simply dance music)
    In the dance music the idea of introducing a new section in a song is very important. Techniques used – thickening (building up) the texture, building the tempo or dropping everything out and making a total contrast etc.


  15. Jonathan Hood says:

    Great example of a sonic anaphone here in my opinion! – Guitarist emulates a dial tone through use of harmonics and the upper region of the neck


  16. Tyler says:

    Hi all, I’d like some help with Tagg’s sign typology that haven’t been covered here yet. Such as episodic determinants, unidirectional sweeps, composite anaphones and others.
    Thank you


  17. Tyler says:

    I would also love example of propulsive reiterations, finality markers, breaks, bridges and tails, systemic flags etc.
    Thank you


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