Silent Representation and the Representation of Silence: Music and Pantomime in Rousseau

In: Silence, Implicite et Non-Dit chez Rousseau / Silence, the Implicit and the Unspoken in Rousseau

Abstract

This chapter presents a kind of commentary in musical examples on chapters I and IX of Rousseau’s Essai sur l’origine des langues. The central categories of langue du geste and langue de la voix, it is argued in particular, are modelled on balletic pantomime and operatic recitative respectively. Therefore, considering these contemporaneous artistic practices helps to gloss the terms in which Rousseau’s imagined originary music-language is described. Along the way, introducing the distinction between diegetic and non-diegetic sound helps to resolve the apparent paradox of the musical depiction of silence.