Creation of meaning and music analogies

Now, here's an analogy that occured to me as I was pondering the indeterminacy of the meaning of some technical term in social science (I think it was metaphor). But it occurred to me that creating meaning (in the Brunerian sense) is very much like playing certain instruments (such as slide guitar). With slide guitar, a note is played by approaching the position on the fretboard. However, unlike playing a normal tone, i.e. pressing a finger on a certain position, the note is held by constant motion of the slide over the fret. The constant motion adds tention but also creates an illusion of a single note. Similar technique is used in bending (both on guitar and harmonica and probably other wind instruments). I understand that much of violin playing is similar, although it is much easier then to achieve a single accurate tone. Slide guitar is a good example, because without the notion no useful tone emerges. This is different from playing the keyboards where one key unambigously produces a perfect note (although many techniques exist to distort the tone - e.g. pedals). And, of course, the whole concept of jazz is built around the idea of suggestion - the players may play perfect notes but frequently only similar to those which might occur in a straightforward melody.

The analogy contrasts a traditional view of semantics, which sees the creation of meaning as a simple playing of a melody on the piano, with a much more dynamic (cognitively oriented) view which sees the benefit in defining meaning through suggestion and constant cognitive motion. Just like in music, the former approach only produces very simple meanings. However, meaning to help us get attuned to the complexities of the world around us, cannot be expressed in such simple terms (or melodic lines). The problem, both in music and language, is that very few simple units (notes, words) produce a very large number of possible combinations thus making it seem a sufficient method for capturing music or language in its entirety.

This is important in academia, where most scholars (even those who study meaning) hold the piano perspective of meaning. This comes through in clichés such as 'define your terms first' or 'you're breaking the Occam's razor'. Simple and minimalist definitions are considered not just superior but ultimately the only academically acceptable way. But, there is ample evidence to the contrary. Helen Keller in her Century of the Gene gave an excellent account of the indeterminacy of the use of a term as supposedly straightforward as the 'gene'. To continue with the analogy, constantly approaching and distancing away from the term gene, allows researchers to better capture a concept in all its difficulty.

Of course, this analogy has long been around in the shape of the 'define an elephant' parable.

Does this analogy break down? Well, all analogies do eventually, and this one isn't any different. However, at this stage I don't see any particularly relevant break. This is partly due to the fact, that the analogy makes relatively few isomorphic claims.