Catholic University of Louvain

The Royal Academy for Science and the Arts of Belgium

Louvain-la-Neuve, April 2 and 4 – 6, Brussels April 3, 2013

Download here the programma ICMS12.pdf (March 28, 12.00)

Download the poster A3: MANIFESTO-ICMS12-2.pdf

Extended Abstract Template: ICMS12_Extended abstract.docx


    Prof. Dr. Costantino Maeder (Université catholique de Louvain)

    Prof. Dr. Mark Reybrouck (KU Leuven)

    Prof. Dr. André Helbo (Université libre de Bruxelles, Académie Royale de Belgique)

    Prof. Dr. Eero Tarasti (Director of the Musical Signification Project, University of Helsinki)

Artistic Coordination:

    Carmela Giusto (UCL)


   Prof. Dr. Christophe Georis (UCL)

   Prof. Dr. Carmela Giusto (UCL)

   Nathalie Coisman (UCL)

   Sonia Henrot (UCL)

   Aline Geuze (UCL)

   Emmanuelle Fantoni (UCL)

President of ISI, PMS and AISS

    Eero Tarasti


Costantino Maeder (UCL)

    Mark Reybrouck (KUL)

    André Helbo (ULB, ARB)

    Ian Cross (University of Cambridge)

    Eero Tarasti (Director of the Musical Signification Project, University of Helsinki)

    Robert S. Hatten (University of Texas)

    Dario Martinelli (University of Helsinki)

    Bernard Vecchione (Université d’Aix-Marseille)

    Christine Esclapez (Université d’Aix-Marseille)

    Jean-Marie Jacono (Université d’Aix-Marseille)

    Márta Grabócz (Université de Strasbourg)

    Gino Stefani (Università degli studi di Bologna)

    Mieczysław Tomaszewski (Music Academy, Cracow)

    Constantin Floros (Universität Hamburg)

    Vladimir Petrov (State Institute for Art Studies, Moscow)

    Dmitriy Shumilin  (Russian Institute for Art History, St.Petersburg)

    Konstantin Zenkin (Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Moscow)



    Project on Musical Signification

    International Association for Semiotic Studies

    International Semiotics Institute

    Centro di studi italiani (UCL)

The International Congress on Musical Signification (ICMS) is a biennial conference on recent developments and future trends in Musical Semiotics. It is one of the major platforms of the Project of Musical Signification, which was launched in Paris in 1984, and which has been directed since 27 years by Eero Tarasti at the University of Helsinki.

The 11th ICMS in Krakow (Poland) was a resounding success. The 12th International Congress will be organized in Belgium from april 2 – 6, 2013 at Louvain-la-Neuve and Brussels. It will be organized jointly by the Center for Italian Studies (Université Catholique de Louvain) (UCL), the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) under the auspices of the International Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS), with the University of Helsinki and the International Semiotics Institute (ISI) as co-organizers and Professors Costantino Maeder (UCL), Mark Reybrouck (KU Leuven), André Helbo (ULB, ARB) and Eero Tarasti (Director of the Musical Signification Project, University of Helsinki) as Directors.

Music plays a decisive role in intermedial phenomena as opera, theater, television, advertising, interactive websites, and so on. Even experiencing a sonata or a Lieder Cycle in a concert is intermedial (the performance, the context of the performance, the shared experience of the audience, etc.). In this conference, we will deal with the complex and enigmatic interaction of music, language, acting, performance and surrounding events as well as with the immediate, comprehensive, all encompassing, sometimes selective response by the audience to these very complex intermedial events.

Semiotics offers important instruments when dealing with these phenomena. This conference will focus on how and why music is composed and experienced within an intermedial framework. Our aim is to foster a better and comprehensive understanding of how music works semiotically.

Let us exemplify the ideas developed above: a competent poet writes a libretto. But, his libretto is not only a literary outline: it contains a projection of possible musical scores and dramatic performances. He distributes his plot on different segments (recitative/versi sciolti, tempo d’attacco, cantabile, tempo di mezzo, cabaletta, all differentiated metrically) according to his estimation of what music is able to express, but as well according to what a spectator will be able to experience immediately. A composer reads and interprets this libretto. His composition offers a new reading of the libretto, according to his own intentions and experiences, and own view about literature. In doing so, he also imagines what his audience will be able to experience. The resulting score can differ sensibly from the poet’s “virtual” scores and dramatic performances. A director, finally, will easily offer a mise en scène that rewrites the composer’s and the poet’s outlines and suggestions. His product makes also a statement about what music is in his eyes.

A spectator of film, opera, or advertisement, experiences music as a part of an organic whole, even without consciously listening to the score. Therefore, we cannot separate music from text, acting, drama, image, etc. In this sense, intermediality does not study theater, opera, or a music album as a mere aggregate of separate media. Many single components of an intermedial object are connected and interwoven, and imply and mirror the other constituents.

The main focus of this conference, within this intermedial framework, will be on the following topics:

Music in an intermedial context (opera, musical, theater, television, advertising, internet, video games, pop album, etc.).

Tension between traditional musicology with emphasis on structural approach to music (music as structure, score analysis) and sense-making by the listener (music as heard or music as experience) from a semiotic point of view.

The working of music within such a context as autonomous constituent (syntactics, semantics, etc.).

Link with central topics of the “International Project on Musical Signification”: musical sense-making, narrativity, and reception.

Role of semiotic point of view: moving from syntactics over semantics (self-reflective or extramusical) to pragmatics (effect on listener).

Encompassing actual and emerging topics of music research such as music and emotion, music as experience, music and the body, musical universals, music and evolution.

Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches: bringing together traditional musicology, musical semiotics, cognitive sciences, and neurobiology.

Free topics: any paper related to Musical Semiotics.


Project on Musical Signification

International Association for Semiotic Studies

International Semiotics Institute

Centro di studi italiani (UCL)