There have been attempts to describe rhythm in technical and musicological terms, yet it has remained one of the most elusive aspects of music for theorists as it is comprised of a range of interacting sounds. This article explores the contribution that could be made by a social semiotic approach to rhythm in popular music. The paper provides an inventory of sound qualities that can be seen as a set of meaning potentials for the creation of certain kinds of “groove” or “movement” in music, since these have different kinds of associations in terms of ideas, moods, and attitudes.
About the author
David Machin (b. 1966) is a senior lecturer at Örebro University 〈firstname.lastname@example.org〉. His research interests include social semiotics and multimodality. His publications include Global media discourse (with T. van Leeuwen, 2007); Analyzing popular music (2010); Language of crime and deviance (with A. Mayr, 2012); and Critical discourse analysis: A multimodal approach (with A. Mayr, 2012).
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