‘Please could you stop the noise’: the grammar of multimodal meaning-making in Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’

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Abstract

This article uses Zbikowski’s theory of ‘musical grammar’ to analyse Radiohead’s song ‘Paranoid Android’ from their 1997 album OK Computer. Invoking the close structural and compositional parallels between language and music, Zbikowski’s approach appropriates some of the core elements of cognitive linguistics to provide a means of ‘translating’ music into meaning-bearing conceptual structures via the construction of ‘sonic analogues’, which are a type of conceptual construct formed when incoming perceptual information is compared to existing cognitive knowledge stored as image schemas. The result is an analysis of the interactions between the linguistic and aural constructions of a multimodal text that not only sheds new light on the text’s meaning-making devices, but also endeavours to unlock the strategies through which such distinctive semiotic modes act and interact within texts to create meaning potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-60
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage and Literature
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

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