CFA: Music and Language Revisited


Call for articles

Journal Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio

Vol. 14, N. 1/2020

Special issue on: Music and Language Revisited

Edited Chris Stover & Stefano Oliva

Deadline: 18.03.2020

The relationship between music and language has been complicated since the advent of post-Enlightenment musical aesthetics. On one hand, as Eduard Hanslick insists in *Vom Musikalisch-Schönen *(1854), music’s content consists solely of sound forms in motion; on the other hand, music does seem to have some sort of para-discursive semantic quality: “it is a language we speak and understand, but which we are unable to translate”.

Suspended between the project of a musical semantics and the myth of music’s ineffability, the philosophy of music has never broken its problematic link with the philosophy of language. Recently, analytic philosophy and neuroscience have addressed the question of the emotional content conveyed by music, taking advantage of new conceptual tools and empirical data previously unavailable; in this way, however, they have had to deal again with questions about the sense and meaning of musical experience.

The current decline of those theoretical orientations more or less connected to the ‘linguistic turn’, and in particular the abandonment of the projects of musical semiology, has not led to a resolution but rather, might be said simply to have elided the question of the relationship between music and language. At the same time, however, interest in music (and its relationship to language) has had something of a recurrence in philosophy: as Giorgio Agamben (2016) has recently noted, “philosophy is today possible only as a reformation of music”, by music meaning “the experience of the Muse, that is, of the origin and the taking place of the word”. Agamben’s provocative comment places music back in the center of a wide range of inquiry practices.

This issue of *RIFL – Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio* intends to re-engage questions of the relationship between linguistic meaning and musical expression, in conjunction with recent developments in contemporary cross-disciplinary research from cognition and neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy and beyond. We welcome contributions that develop the following lines of research (though not limited to them):

  • Linguistic meaning and musical expressiveness
  • Musical semiotics, syntax and pragmatics
  • Rhetoric and affections in music
  • Music and metaphor
  • Relations between musical experience and origin of language
  • Analysis of the emotional content of music
  • Embodied cognition and musical experience
  • Music and limits of language.

We call for articles in Italian, English and French. All manuscripts must be accompanied by an abstract (max 250 words), a title and 5 keywords in English. The manuscript must be prepared using the template at this link: All submissions must be prepared by the author for anonymous evaluation. The name, affiliation to an institution and title of the contribution should be indicated in a file different from that which contains the text. The contribution must be sent in electronic format .doc or .rtf to

Instructions for authors

Maximum contribution length: 40000 characters (including spaces) for articles (including bibliography
and endnotes);

Deadline 18.03.2020
Publication: June 2020

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