A Generative Theory of Tonal Music


This work, which has become a classic in music theory since its publication in 1983, models music understanding from the perspective of cognitive science. The point of departure is a search for a grammar of music with the aid of generative linguistics. The theory, which is illustrated with numerous examples from Western classical music, relates the aural surface of a piece to the musical structure unconsciously inferred by the experienced listener. From the viewpoint of traditional music theory, it offers many innovations in notation as well as in the substance of rhythmic and reductional theory.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Preface to the 1996 Reprint
  3. 1. Theoretical Perspective
  4. 2. Introduction to Rhythmic Structure
  5. 3. Grouping Structure
  6. 4. Metrical Structure
  7. 5. Introduction to Reductions
  8. 6. Time-Span Reduction: The Analytic System
  9. 7. Formalization of Time-Span Reduction
  10. 8. Prolongational Reduction: The Analytic System
  11. 9. Formalization of Prolongational Reduction
  12. 10. Some Analyses
  13. 11. Musical Universals and Related Issues
  14. 12. Psychological and Linguistic Connections
  15. Notes
  16. Rule Index
  17. Bibliography
  18. Index