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Welcome! I am Jason Nguyen, a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington, and this blog is where I make observations about music, culture, and academic life.


Here, I’m just listing some sources that I find useful in my work that others might want to use as well.


My advisor has sorta turned me into the semiotics guy among the graduate students, so she occasionally sends new grad students interested in semiotics my way. This ongoing listing is meant to serve as  a primer for someone who is interested in my Peircian-leaning approach.

Turino, Thomas. Music as Social Life

Great book, not JUST about semiotics, but the first few chapters are a great crash course, and I used it as an AI for Intro to World Music, a 100-level course, and the students liked it fine (as well as they might like any text). I’ve even used the semiotics sections in non-music classes I’ve taught. As a bonus, I really like Turino’s conceptualization of identity and self, heavily influenced by Bourdieu.

Turino, Thomas. 1999. “Signs of Imagination, Identity, and Experience: A Peircian Semiotic Theory for Music”. Ethnomusicology. 43(2):221-255.

Turino’s article, which I read first as a first-year graduate student…which I totally shouldn’t have. If words like “dicent” and “rheme” turn you on, then jump right in. This is a really important article for music and semiotics–I’d even say a pivotal one for me–but it’s dense for a first go-round. Read his book first, then come back to this.

Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics: The Basics

Chandler’s book is a great primer, especially if you just want to quickly figure out what Saussurian and Peircian semiotics are. Also, if you can’t afford the book or can’t find a copy of it, an older (but complete) draft is still on his website: http://users.aber.ac.uk/dgc/Documents/S4B/

Peirce, Charles S. The Essential Peirce, Vol. I & II.

Not necessary unless you read that stuff and decide that you are going to be a semiotician. The most reasonable collection of Peirce’s works, since getting all 8 volumes or whatever of the other collection seems excessive unless this is your jam.