An Attempt at the Etymological Analysis of Music

  • Ina Barsova
Keywords: music, word, inner form, etymology, analysis


The theory of the “inner form”, developed by the Russian scientist A. Potebnja from the theory of W. Humboldts, includes a procedure that is useful for etymological analysis. The musicologically relevant aspects of this teachings are: 1. the search for the deeper “linguistic sense” present in a work of art; 2. an analogy between the work of art and the world – both of which include the “total sense”; 3. the threesubstances of words and artworks – (spiritual) content (Gehalt), inner form (innere Form) and outer form (äussere Form) – as opposed to two: form and content. “Inner form” can emerge through different “etyma”, such as the scale, the rhetorical figure, the motive and performed pitch, the quotation, the genre and ritual. In comparison to a holistic or structural analysis, or to other kinds of music analysis, the etymological analysis of music can create a sense of the historical dynamic of a musical language.


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How to Cite
BarsovaI. (2007). An Attempt at the Etymological Analysis of Music. Musicological Annual, 43(2), 219-232.