12 Metafiction and Metamusic: Exploring the Limits of Metareference [2007]

In: Selected Essays on Intermediality by Werner Wolf (1992–2014)


[‘Metaization’ is a transmedial phenomenon whose occurrence in media such as fiction, drama or film is by now well-known, but appears, at first glance, not to apply to (instrumental) music. The present essay shows that this is an erroneous impression: there is such a thing as ‘metamusic’. After terminological clarifications (e. g. concerning the difference between merely formal self-reference and ‘metareference’ as a hypernym for all media-specific variants of metaization and also concerning some general sub-forms of metareference), the existence of musical metareference is demonstrated by means of a case study: J.S. Bach’s [?] “Kleines Harmonisches Labyrinth” BWV 591. It is shown that this composition clearly draws the listener’s attention to an aspect of the employed medial system, namely musical modulations, and thus fulfills the basic condition of metareference. Further examples from various epochs (including Friedrich Gulda’s “Concerto for Myself”) corroborate the existence of metamusic and lead to an overview of the possible, and impossible, variants of metareference in instrumental music. The essay concludes with a survey of as yet neglected areas in the field of metareference and gives perspectives for future research.] 

Selected Essays on Intermediality by Werner Wolf (1992–2014)

Theory and Typology, Literature-Music Relations, Transmedial Narratology, Miscellaneous Transmedial Phenomena



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