I will "consider the options of describing music without using words"...:

How about...standard musical notation?

How about...standard musical notation supplemented by tablature?

Or perhaps that is what was meant by "iconic representation" and I just don't know the lingo?

In any case, I would have to agree that while music can definitely convey some amount of emotional impact, (which is why movies have soundtracks of course) there is really very little meaning inherently contained within a given musical passage (excluding lyrics of course).

Depending on the instrument used, standard musical notation can carry nearly all of the information needed to perform a given piece. For a piano for instance, there are really not that many ways to play a given note. The only options are how hard to hit the note and how long to sustain, and whether to use the soft pedal. For an electric guitar and guitar amp on the other hand, there is an infinite continuum of ways to play a given note, and so musical notation really falls short of being able to fully describe the music, and a reference recording is normally required if you want to really know how a piece is intended to be played. (Incidentally, this is why guitar samples played on electronic keyboards will always suck, the keyboard does not allow the same degree of control over the notes being played. Here I define "suck" to mean, not sound like a real guitar).

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