Social semiotics is a new school of semiotics that has over the years been applied to the study of visual and multimodal communication in particular. As the study of signifying practices within certain cultural groups is one of the main fields of interest within social semiotics, it appears safe to assume that these ideas will be of interest in the analysis of popular music. In this article, I will present some preliminary results of my ongoing doctoral research on reggae and dancehall aesthetics as negotiated in Germany. Using methods drawn from cultural sociology, social semiotics, and musicology, I aim to empirically describe the genre’s discursive, visual, and sounding phenomena. In this context, musical diversity is identified as an essential part of the aesthetic discourse – both generally speaking as well as with regard to the singer’s voice. Using the song “Taking Over” by the vocalist Sizzla as an example, I would like to show how vocal expression can be interpreted aesthetically. In general, the intent of this article is to illustrate ideas of popular music analysis as inspired by social semiotics.
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- Popular Music Analysis and Social Semiotics: The Case of the Reggae Voice