Meaning of Music
International Conference
Meaning of Music
Date: October 10–11, 2024
Location: Academy of Music in Gdańsk, ul. Łąkowa 1–2 / online
Language: English
The conference is addressed to: academic community, students and postgraduate students

Call for Papers download PDF

The Department of Music Theory at the Stanisław Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdańsk, Poland, is pleased to invite submissions of proposals for the International Conference “Meaning of Music”, which will take place in person and online on October 10–11, 2024 (co-financed by the Ministry of Education and Science in the “Excellent Science” programme – DNK/SP/548966/2022).

The official language of the conference is English. In addition to one-hour lectures by keynote-speakers, we plan 20-minute papers. Please submit an abstract of about 500 words and short biographical information including your name, contact details (postal address, e-mail) and affiliation no later than 15th December 2023 to The programme committee will make its final decision on the abstracts by the end of January 2024 and contributors will be informed immediately thereafter.

Further information about the programme, registration, conference fee, and accommodation will be announced on the conference website Be sure to check back at a later date for full details.

Conference members are guaranteed the publication of abstracts on the Internet and in the programme and abstracts book, as well as a coffee bar, dinner and supper for each of the two days of the conference.

Programme Committee

Violetta Kostka
Professor of Humanities, Project Coordinator
Academy of Music in Gdańsk

Anna Chęćka
Associate Professor
University of Gdańsk
Joanna Schiller-Rydzewska
Assistant Professor
Academy of Music in Gdańsk
Elżbieta Frołowicz
Professor, Head of Department of Music Theory
Academy of Music in Gdańsk


One of the most fundamental questions emerging from our relationship with music is: can music mean? Those who try to answer this represent two radically different schools called formalism and referentialism, but recently a third one has emerged that situates itself between these two. This third school owes its existence to relatively new cognitive linguistic theories such as conceptual metaphor and conceptual blending. The earlier of them (G. Lakoff and M. Johnson 1980) asserts that metaphor is not a literary, stylistic device, but one of the basic forms of thinking, whose characteristic feature is one-way mapping between mental spaces. In turn, the later theory (G. Fauconnier and M. Turner 2002) assumes that mapping between mental spaces is bidirectional, and a blended space emerges from the interaction of concepts of both input spaces. Meanings that are constructed in this way are mostly unconscious, but they are at the heart of both everyday meanings and unique human creativity.

The first musicological works dealing with the issue of meaning of music from a cognitive perspective appeared at the end of the twentieth century, and the twenty first century has shown that interest in this subject is growing. There are already several serious publications devoted to theoretical issues, such as musical concepts, cognitive musical grammar (L. Zbikowski 2002, 2017), musical metaphors (M. Spitzer 2004), as well as the theory called multilevel grounding (M. Antović 2022), not to mention numerous semantic interpretations of individual works from multimedia genres (song, opera, film music, music with video), instrumental programme music and – less often – absolute instrumental music. Despite some advancement in this work, the question of the definition of musical significance is not yet definitively resolved. The prevailing view is that the musical meaning is divided into auto- and hetero-referentiality, but according to M. Antović it includes “any situation in which elements of a cognitive system (for the most part, music) exhibit reference – that is, evoke a psychological reaction that listeners intuit as categorically different from, though likely superimposed on, the pure parsing of structure”.

The aim of the Gdańsk conference is to gather together in one place and time researchers from all over the world who are dealing with this topic, in order to present current theoretical knowledge, to date scattered across various sources, and to make semantic interpretation of individual works from all musical genres. Among the many important problems within the field, the organisers propose to highlight: embodied music cognition; the place of emotions in the construction of musical meaning; image schemas; musical vs. linguistic concepts; the role of percepts and concepts in the process of constructing musical meaning; physical, biological, social and cultural limitations; metaphors and blends concerning music; ambiguity; definition of musical meaning, but the above list may be widely developed. We are convinced that results of our international conference will contribute not only to the popularisation of the cognitive approach to musical meaning, but also to raise the general level of knowledge about human forms of mental and creative activity.


Lawrence Zbikowski
Professor of Music and the Humanities, Chair of the Department of Music
University of Chicago, USA
Lawrence M. Zbikowski is the Addie Clark Harding Professor of Music and the Humanities and chair of the Department of Music at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1993. His research focuses on the way musical understanding is shaped by humans’ cognitive capacities, articulated through studies of musical grammar, language-music relations, connections between music and movement, and musical analyses. This research has been brought together in Conceptualizing Music: Cognitive Structure, Theory, and Analysis (2002), which explores the cognitive bases of musical thought, and Foundations of Musical Grammar (2017), which describes how humans’ unique ability to correlate sounds with dynamic processes provides the basis for the construction of meaningful musical utterances. Recent and forthcoming publications focus on relationships between analogy and metaphor in our understanding of music, explore design principles for the musical heroic, engage with translations between music and dance, and reflect on Eduard Hanslick’s ideas about music and emotion.
Mihailo Antović
Professor, Faculty of Philosophy, Head Researcher, Centre for Cognitive Sciences
University of Niš, Serbia
Mihailo Antović (PhD), full professor, teaches cognitive linguistics in the Department of English, Faculty of Philosophy, and heads the Center for Cognitive Sciences at the University of Niš. He has presented papers at more than 30 conferences, e.g. in Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States. He was a Fulbright visiting scholar at Case Western Reserve University, research scholar at the University of Freiburg and Humboldt Foundation’s senior research fellow at Humboldt University, Berlin. His articles have appeared in a number of journals (including Metaphor and Symbol, Language and History, Musicae Scientiae, Language and Communication, Cognitive Semiotics, Music Perception, Language and Literature) and edited volumes published by OUP, De Gruyter, John Benjamins, Springer. His latest publication is the monograph Multilevel Grounding: A Theory of Musical Meaning (Routledge, 2022).
Michael Spitzer
Professor of Music, Department of Music
University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
Michael Spitzer is Professor of Music at the University of Liverpool. He was educated at Merton College Oxford and Southampton University, and taught for twenty years at Durham University. He has written more than fifty articles and four monographs: Metaphor and Musical Thought (Chicago, 2004); Music as Philosophy: Adorno and Beethoven’s Late Style (Indiana, 2006); A History of Emotion in Western Music: A Thousand Years From Chant to Pop (Oxford, 2020); and The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth (Bloomsbury, 2021). A History of Emotion was named a 2021 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title by the American Association of College and Research Libraries. The Musical Human has been translated into thirteen languages and counting (including Chinese and Ukrainian), has an audiobook read by Daniel Levitin, and was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week read by Simon McBurney.
Rolf Inge Godøy
Professor of Musicology, Department of Musicology
University of Oslo, Norway
Rolf Inge Godøy is professor emeritus of music theory at the Department of Musicology, University of Oslo. His main interest is in phenomenological approaches to music theory, meaning taking our subjective experiences of music as the point of departure for music theory. This work has been expanded to include research on music-related body motion in performance and listening, using various conceptual and technological tools to explore the relationships between sound and body motion in the experience of music. In his research on music and body motion, he has been project leader for the Musical Gestures Project and the subsequent Sensing Music-Related Actions Project, both financed by the Research Council of Norway, as well as establishing the fourMs (Music, Motion, Mind, Machines) interdisciplinary research lab, also funded by the Research Council of Norway. This research endeavor later contributed to the establishment of the RITMO Centre of Excellence, of which he was a senior researcher until retirement in 2022. Also, Godøy has been active in international research cooperation, such as the European research projects ConGAS and SID.
Anthony Brandt
Professor, Chair of Composition and Theory at the Shepherd School of Music
Rice University in Houston, USA
Professor of Composition and Theory at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He and neuroscientist David Eagleman co-authored The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World, which has been published in fourteen countries. Dr. Brandt recently composed the music for the ballet LiveWire (2022) and chamber work Diabelli 200 (2023), collaborations with neuro-engineer Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal and the University of Houston BRAIN Center in which several of the performers wear portable EEG caps: these combinations of artistic performance and scientific experiment are among the first of their kind. He is currently a co-investigator in a National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab examining the benefits of musical creativity for the elderly, as well as studies examining music’s effects on stroke recovery and surgeons’ stress. Dr. Brandt has contributed chapters to the Oxford Handbook of Music and the Brain, Oxford Handbook of Music and Language and Creative Provocations: Speculation on the Future of Creativity, Technology & Learning, and published papers in the Creativity Research Journal, Frontiers, The American Journal of Psychology, Tech Trends, and Brain Connectivity.
Danae Stefanou
Associate Professor, School of Music Studies
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Danae Stefanou is Associate Professor at the School of Music Studies, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH). Her work is situated at the intersection of musicology, sound studies and critical practices, with a special focus on experimental and improvised music, sound arts, and artistic research methods. She has contributed chapters to the Cambridge Companion to Film Music (CUP, 2016), Made in Greece: Studies in Greek Popular Music (Routledge, 2018), Contemporary Popular Music Studies (Springer, 2019) and Music and Landscape / Soundscape and Sonic Arts (Universal Edition, 2019), and co-edited a special issue on Creative Conceptual Blending in Music for Musicae Scientiae (2018). Active as a performer since the 1990s and a member of Athens-based intermedia duo acte vide since 2006, she is the founder & director of AUTH’s Experimental & Improvised Music Ensembles and has performed, composed, and curated hundreds of independent actions & events in public spaces, DIY venues, arts institutions & educational establishments, under commissions from the Greek State Museum of Contemporary Art, Megaron Concert Hall, Goethe Institut Athen, Institut Francais d'Athenes, Arts Council Ireland, Onassis Stegi and SNFCC among other organizations. During the past few years, she has also developed original text scores, sonic fiction writings, performance-workshops, installations and collaborative methodologies for several interdisciplinary arts-based research projects, knowledge exchange frameworks and transnational co-operation networks, including Music 4 Change (Erasmus+ KA220, 2022-2024), Multimodal Community Composition Project Athens (Sounds Now – Creative Europe, 2020-2023), Transmissions Residency Exchange (EEA/Norway 2019-2022), and Sounding Paths residency (Interfaces Network - Creative Europe, 2016-2019).
Juan Chattah
Associate Professor of Music Theory, Director of the Experiential Music Curriculum
Frost School of Music, University Miami, USA
Juan Chattah (PhD) is an associate professor of music theory at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami, USA. His primary research delves into music’s impact on cognitive capacities and explores musical multimedia through the lenses of semiotics and neuropsychology. In his forthcoming volume, Film Music: Cognition to Interpretation (Routledge, 2023), he adopts a holistic approach that blends cognitive psychology, musical analysis, behavioral neuroscience, and semiotics to examine the perceptual and cognitive processes that elicit musical meaning in film. Recent interdisciplinary publications include Soundtrack Design: The Impact of Music On Visual Attention and Affective Responses (2021) and The Impact of Music on Vehicular Performance (2019). Along with Ching-Hua Chuan and a large multidisciplinary research team, he is currently working on AURA, an intelligent technology ecosystem that uses biosensors and music/audio for mood regulation. In parallel, his progressive ideas on curricular innovation, presented at various national and international conferences and embedded within the co-authored CMS’s Manifesto, have inspired radical transformations in music education.
Violetta Kostka
Professor of Humanities, Department of Music Theory
Academy of Music in Gdańsk, Poland
Violetta Kostka is Professor of Humanities in the discipline of Art Studies. Trained as musicologist at the University in Poznań, she received her PhD and habilitation degrees from the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Currently works at the Academy of Music in Gdańsk. She won research grants from the University of Cambridge, the Polish Library in Paris, the State Committee of Scientific Research and the Ministry of Education and Science. For scientific and didactic activity she was awarded the honorary medal “Distinguished for Polish Culture”. Her research achievements include books on Tadeusz Kassern’s and Paweł Szymański’s music and about 100 articles among others in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart and „Tempo. A Quarterly Review of Modern Music”. She is the co-editor of the book Intertextuality in Music: Dialogic Composition published by Routledge. In addition to attending conferences in the USA and many countries in Europe, she has given her own lectures in Poland and abroad and organised two conferences in Gdańsk. Her current research interests oscillate around music cognition, musical meaning, music creativity, intertextuality in music, music in multimedia and different problems of music of the twentieth century and twenty-first century.


Prof. Hallgjerd Aksnes, University of Oslo

Dr Ashok Kumar Arya, Assist. Prof. at Kumaun University, Nainital, Uttarakhand India

Dr Rachel Becker, Assist. Prof. at Boise State University (Idaho)

Dr Jean Beers, Assoc. Prof. at Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna

Ligia Borges Silva, PhD cand. at University of Coimbra; Luis Castro, composer, Oporto; Carlo Giovani, graphic designer, Oporto

Olga Borzyszkowska, MA, currently student at Chopin University of Music in Warsaw

Dr Renate Bräuninger, Independent Scholar, Berlin

Dr Paulo F. de Castro, Assoc. Prof. at University “Nova” of Lisbon

Dr hab. Anna Chęćka, Assoc. Prof. at Gdańsk University; Anna Prus, student of Medical University of Gdańsk and Gdańsk University

Dr Barbara Dobretsberger, Assoc. Prof. at Mozarteum University Salzburg

Dr Francesco Finocchiaro, researcher at State University of Milan, Privatdozent at University of Innsbruck

Marianthi Fotopoulou, PhD cand. at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Gabriele Giacosa, PhD cand. at University of Cologne

Prof. Ryszard D. Golianek, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

Dr Małgorzata Grajter, Academy of Music in Łódź

Dr Sarka Havličkova Kysová, Assoc. Prof. at Masaryk University in Brno

Stacy Jarvis, PhD cand. at University of Birmingham

Caleb Labbe Phelan, PhD cand. at University of Toronto; Dr Irida Altman, ETH Zurich

Samuel Manzoni, PhD cand. at University of Zurich

Malwina Marciniak, PhD cand. at Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz

Dr Ângelo Martingo, Assoc. Prof. at University of Minho

Agata Meissner, PhD cand. at Mozarteum University Salzburg

Dr Cristina Pascu, researcher at National Academy of Music in Cluj Napoca

Prof. Birger Petersen, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Dr Ivana Petković Lozo, Assist. Prof. at University of Arts in Belgrade

Dr hab. Piotr Podlipniak, Assoc. Prof. at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

Prof. Tijana Popović Mladjenović, University of Arts in Belgrade

Bruce Ramell, freelance researcher, Haddenham

Dr Kamilė Rupeicaitė, senior researcher at Lithuanian Culture Research Institute, Assoc. Prof. at Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Vilnius

Mark Sexton, lecturer at University of Portsmouth

Dr László Stachó, lecturer and senior research fellow at Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest

Alison Stevens, PhD cand. at University of Edinburgh

Dr Kalliopi Stigka, High School of Neo Faliro-Piraeus; Joannis Kourtis, composer, Montpellier

Dr M. Belén Vargas, lecturer at University of Granada

Marko Vesić, PhD cand. at University of Arts in Belgrade

Zuzana Vojnovič, PhD cand. at Charles University in Prague

Dr Petros Vouvaris, Assist. Prof. at University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki

Dr Riccardo D. Wanke, University “Nova” of Lisbon

Prof. Miloš Zatkalik, University of Arts in Belgrade

Participants' Abstracts

Hallgjerd Aksnes:The Enactment of Musical Meaning: Perspectives from Mark Johnson’s Neuropragmatism

Ashok Kumar Arya: Meaning of Music in the Indian Context

Rachel Becker: Ecphratic Signification in Instrumental Music

Jean Beers: Ambiguity in music – musical meaning deconstructed and reinterpreted

Lígia Borges Silva, Luís Castro, Carlo Giovani: Singing images and drawing music with Cantaroler, a book designed to foster children’s imagination and artistic expression

Olga Borzyszkowska: The piece of music as a world: On the specific experience of space in light of the cognitive metaphor theory

Renate Bräuninger: How is meaning generated in a multimedia performance genre like dance?

Paulo F. de Castro: Leonard Ratner’s concept of the musical topic: Towards a critical-historical approach

Anna Chęćka, Anna Prus: Embodied Cognition and Creating Meaning in Musical Performance: Epistemic Criticism of Artificial Intelligence-based Musicianship

Barbara Dobretsberger: Mozart, the couple therapist? Listening to music while reading between the lines

Francesco Finocchiaro: “Organic music” versus “mechanical music”: A metaphorical antithesis in the musical debate between the two World Wars

Marianthi Fotopoulou: From the music score to music video: A choreographed performance of Mors stupebit from Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa da Requiem (1874) by Christian Spuc

Gabriele Giacosa: Moving mirrors: A phenomenological analysis of Spiegel im Spiegel

Ryszard D. Golianek: Musical disguise in Mozart’s comic operas

Małgorzata Grajter: Interlinguistic and Intersemiotic Challenges of Translating Song Lyrics on the Example of the Song from the Walt Disney Movie Frozen (Kraina lodu)

Sarka Havličkova Kysová: Multilevel Grounding Theory as Analytical Approach to Operatic Production – Theatre Studies Perspective

Stacy Jarvis: The migratory intonation as a semantic structure and its transformation within the context of a musical theme

Caleb Labbe Phelan, Irida Altman: Locating Musical Meaning in Performance: An Approach Through Translation Theory

Samuel Manzoni: Sollertinsky, between legacy and (re)discovery: Genesis and development of tripartite and de-totalizing thought

Malwina Marciniak: Krzysztof Penderecki’s Piano Concerto “Resurrection” in a Narratological Perspective

Ângelo Martingo: Communication as shared meaning: rationality, expression, and music structure

Agata Meissner: Metaphors and (historical) performance practice: Can the metaphorical approach to music meaning be applied to practical music making and music teaching?

Cristina Pascu: Metaphorical Imagery in Piano Lessons: A Cognitive Perspective on Alfred Cortot’s Pedagogical Legacy

Birger Petersen: “Figure” and “Meaning” in the Vocal Music of Dieterich Buxtehude

Ivana Petković Lozo: A Journey from the Periphery to the Center of the Meaning of/in Music: Claude Debussy’s Nocturnes

Piotr Podlipniak: Musical meaning as a remnant of cross-domain interactions in the coevolution of music and language

Tijana Popović Mladjenović: The hermeneutic fragment on the meaning of a musical work

Bruce Ramell: Music, number and meaning: An attempt at a new approach to musical grammar

Kamilė Rupeicaitė: Performance as the meaning of the work: Anatolijus Šenderovas’ (1945-2019) philosophy of music

Mark Sexton: The Meaning of Songs: How Can the Digital Humanities Help Us Understand Musical Meaning?

László Stachó: Meaning, Process, and Presence: A Psychologically-Grounded Theory of Musical Meaning

Alison Stevens: Meaning in Participatory Music: A Bellringing Protest

Kalliopi Stigka, Ioannis Kourtis: From Dreams of Memory (2011) to Imbabazi - The Pardon (2013): An intimate dialogue between words, images, sounds and Ηistory

M. Belén Vargas: Musical metaphor as a vehicle of political satire in the Spanish press (1833-74)

Marko Vesić: „Mental theater“ as a new paradigm of intra-musical epistemology: Fundamental problems of the „scientific“ approach in music theory through the perspective of neuroscience and philosophy

Zuzana Vojnovič: Pianist’s Intuition While Studying Compositions

Petros Vouvaris: Revisiting Schubert’s musical orgasms

Riccardo D. Wanke: Explaining the perceptual experience of sound-based music through image schema

Miloš Zatkalik: Form and Meaning by Berislav Popovic: With Luhmann, Deleuze, and Husserl waiting for their turn

Registration and Fee

Persons qualified for the conference will receive a Registration Form by the end of January 2024 to be completed and returned to the organisers. The completed form should be accompanied by proof of transfer of the conference fee. The conference fee must be paid at the same time as completing the registration. Any and all banking charges must be covered by the participant. The deadline for sending all documents to is March 22, 2024.

Fee Categories:
  1. In-person participation (every day: 2 coffee bars, dinner, supper) – 135 EUR
  2. Online participation (exclusively in the hybrid sessions) – 85 EUR

Conference Venue

Campus, Building A
Campus, Building B
Campus, Concert hall (A)
Campus, Concert hall (B)
Campus, Prof. Paweł Podejko Auditorium (B)
Gdańsk, Long Waterfront
Gdańsk, Neptune’s Fountain and Artus Court
Gdańsk, Mariacka Street
Gdańsk, Museum of the Second World War
Gdańsk, European Solidarity Centre and Monument


We recommend staying at the Dom Muzyka hotel located on the campus of the Academy of Music in Gdańsk just next to the Conference venue. To book your room at the Dom Muzyka hotel please contact the hotel directly.

Dom Muzyka
ul. Łąkowa 1–2
80-743 Gdańsk
(+48 58) 326 06 00


Academy of Music in Gdańsk
ul. Łąkowa 1–2
80-743 Gdańsk

Sponsors and Partners

The conference is co-financed by the Ministry of Education and Science in the “Excellent Science” programme – DNK/SP/548966/2022.