Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Language, Education, and Innovation 2018

When Music Meets Language

Angus Ang Thiah Huat, Andrew Blackburn

Sultan Idris Education University, Malaysia


Music and language are both assigned the power of communication and expression. Left at this point we may intuitively sense a truth in this statement, but just how does this occur and is our ‘intuition’ valid and supportable. In language, extensive study and research in all spoken languages has led to the establishment of linguistics with its own ontology and understandings which are well understood and accepted. But what of music? No such accepted field of research truly exists. Over the last half century or so there have been a few writers who have attempted to ascribe a syntactical and generative grammar to tonal music using frameworks that are familiar to our linguistic friends. By and large, this has been unsuccessful using these linguistic definitions. In spite of these unsuccessful attempts to create sets of musical rules that can be said to musically equate with linguistic syntax and generative grammar, there are distinct parallels that can be drawn.


Intuition, syntactical, generative grammar