Music and Language-Games

Joachim Schulte


This paper aims to clarify certain aspects of the connections between music and (word) language alluded to in various manuscript passages by Wittgenstein. Three points are emphasized: (1) Wittgenstein’s willingness to speak of music as a language; (2) the importance of context; (3) the possibility of distinguishing various ways of explaining our hearing certain sequences of sounds as expressive of gestures or states of mind etc. Several attempts at elucidating the idea of understanding music lead to the realization that, according to Wittgenstein, a prior grasp of his notion of a language-game is required to make headway in this area.


Wittgenstein; aesthetics; music; understanding; language-game

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