Music markers

Date published: 2008-07-22 2:33:01 PM

Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s research interests have always been eclectic. Professor of musicology at the Université de Montréal, Nattiez is a leading authority on the works of Richard Wagner, Claude Debussy and Pierre Boulez. He was the first to apply semiology—the study of signs and symbols—to the analysis of music. He was also the first to record and analyze Inuit throat singing in the late 1970s.

Using semiotics as a foundation for his research among the Inuit, Nattiez investigated the profound cultural significance of throat singing. He learned that it was developed to influence animal and other spirits prior to a hunt. In fieldwork among the Ainu of Japan and Siberian peoples, Nattiez found similar musical and religious patterns. These findings helped demonstrate that Inuit cultural practices are connected to other circumpolar cultures of the world.

Jean-Jacques Nattiez, Musicology, Université de Montréal