Book: Audible Signs

Audible Signs: Essays from a Musical Ground
by Michael Alec Rose

“A vivid, expressive, and innovative study of how the great composers in classical and rock music deploy subtle musical signs in ingenious ways.”

  • Imprint: Continuum
  • Pub. date: 01 Sep 2010
  • ISBN: 9781441180506

192 Pages, paperback,  World rights,  Translation Rights Available  $24.95
(also available in hardback: 9781441143266 $80)


Whether it’s a song by Brahms or by the Boss, a serenade by Mozart or a ballet by John Harbison, music radiates a diverse spectrum of meaningful signs, hidden in plain hearing.  To enjoy the interplay of musical signs, it helps to recognize them in the first place.  The various iconographic strategies of Audible Signs—including commentary on graphic works, books, poems, and film—yield new appreciations and critiques of composers of vastly divergent styles and technical materials.

Author and composer Michael Alec Rose helps readers decode the signs composers give us in their music—sounds that invoke very particular ideas,  images, and cultural contexts—and reveals the extraordinary ingenuity with which certain pieces deploy recognizable figures in a musical landscape.  None of this can be done systematically.  Each artwork reinvents “the code” and demands a unique set of approaches.  But the chapters in this invigorating book spring from the same musical ground, where the only thing that matters is to pay attention to the wonders of great music.