Newswise — What is the meaning of music? It’s a matter of semantics—but music semantics are different from those in language. New York University Linguistics Professor Philippe Schlenker will discuss these distinctions as well as how music may be identified in “Musical Meaning within Super Semantics,” a public lecture, on Tues., Oct. 15, 4-5:30 p.m. at NYU’s Meyer Building, Room 551 (6 Washington Place [at Broadway]).

Schlenker, a senior researcher at CNRS (Institut Jean-Nicod, Paris) and a Global  Distinguished Professor at NYU, has studied the semantics of sign languages as well as the logic and typology of gestures in spoken language.

In “Musical Meaning within Super Semantics,” he will consider how the content of a music piece may be identified with the set of inferences it licenses on its causal sources—such as voices in some western music. The lecture will also highlight important differences between music semantics and semantics in language—while also drawing connections to those of visual narratives and gestures. Overall, the talk will evaluate the place of music semantics within recent scholarship on semantics—and, notably, the ways in which music can, like gestures, enrich or even replace other forms of communication. 

The event, part of the NYU’s Center for Language, Music, and Emotion (CLaME) lecture series, is free and open to the public. Entry is on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited. For more information, call 212.998.8072. Subways: A, B, C, D, E, M (W. 4th St.); R, W (8th St-NYU). 


The Max-Planck • NYU Center for Language, Music and Emotion (CLaME) investigates these foundational human experiences from novel perspectives, linking language, music, emotion, memory, and decision making. The Center is comprised of interconnected and interdisciplinary research groups that capitalize on the expertise and resources of the participating scientists across the sites. For more, please visit

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