Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Adapting Peircean semiotics to sound theory and practice

Murray, L.ORCID: 0000-0002-2366-7460 (2015) Adapting Peircean semiotics to sound theory and practice. Sound Effects: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Sound and Sound Experience, 5 (1). pp. 55-72.

PDF - Published Version
Download (700kB) | Preview
Free to read:
*No subscription required


This paper argues that the semiotic model proposed by C.S. Peirce (1839-1914) has the potential to be adapted to sound in order to provide a comprehensive conceptual framework and meta- language for describing sound both as product and as practice. The flexibility of the Peircean model means that it is ideally suited to the analysis of sound and sound/image combinations and to the analysis of audio-visual media.

The starting point of the decision-making process for sound producers and designers can be framed by some fundamental questions: (a) What does the audience need to know? (b) How should the audience feel? And (c) what should they think? With the overall goal of the soundtrack being to ‘serve the needs of the story’, the choices in the soundtrack are geared around creating these understandings or emotional responses. The opening sequence from The Conversation (Coppola, 1974) is examined to illustrate the Peircean model as it is applied to sound in the audio-visual soundtrack. Viewed in this way the soundtrack can be thought of as a kind of trail of breadcrumbs, a part of the narrative which allows the audience to search for cause and consequence for themselves. A Peircean semiotic approach can then be used to inform the process of designing the soundtrack as well as aid in the analysis of the finished work.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: The State and University Library - Aarhus
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year