From Signs to Symbols, from Symbols to Words


  • Jaakko Erkkilä



In this article the relationship between music and language is first considered theoretically. Here the ideas and concepts are mainly derived from psychoanalytical theory as well as from its reformulations. A theory on the (early) forms of thinking is presented in which the author grounds the different types of meaning included both in music and language - without forgetting the unique features of them. Upon this, the differences and similarities between music therapy and psychotherapy are considered. It is suggested that instead of many unique characteristics of the therapies, the differences are not necessarily fundamental, and further, both of them have some advantages and shortcomings that can be associated with language - some way or another. After the theory part, the role of free improvisation in the music psychotherapy is considered. The author describes the process "from signs to symbols, from symbols to words" where improvisation in music psychotherapy process can play an important role. Here the role of improvisation analysis is emphasized. A specific "graphic notation" method, developed at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, is presented. Through an example, based on the utilization of this method, the author illustrates what kind of meanings it is possible to "extract" by aid of it. Some suggestions for the clinical interpretations are also made.




How to Cite

Erkkilä, J. (2004). From Signs to Symbols, from Symbols to Words. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 4(2).



Theoretical Articles