Exploring the use of images to construct musical meaning about concepts of music

Publication Date



In high stakes testing in the final year of secondary schooling in New South Wales, music students from diverse backgrounds create examination answers using language and image to represent meaning about the concepts of music. This paper focuses on the ways in which musical meaning is created through images, including pitch contours, rhythm notation, texture scores, tables and graphs. This article argues that images are highly efficient and effective exam techniques for committing sophisticated and detailed meaning about concepts of music. Also, images help create a ‘meta’ perspective on the music as a whole, as well as enabling perception of tiny moments, or the flow of unfolding music. Consequently, general musical meaning about principles of composition like unity and contrast can be construed along with more particular meanings related to musical events. Analysis of these affordances shows the value of images in aural examinations and as meaning-making resources in music education.


School of Education

Document Type

Conference Paper

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ERA Access