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One concludes that humans are similarity automatons regardless of domain, level, or operation. Such cognitive dependence of so much on so little stems directly from evolution, where the ubiquitous complexity found in life is comprehensible only because the high-level abstract rules governing our unconscious processing are so very simple – and for that reason so very powerful.1
The field of music theory – which, for the last 100 years or so has principally concerned itself with discovering, demonstrating and explaining how sound is structured in musical contexts – is, arguably, at least as diverse as music itself. In the twentieth century, for example, music-theoretical concepts were formulated ranging from the Grundgestalt of Arnold Schoenberg to Heinrich Schenker’s Ursatz, from the implication-realization model of Eugene Narmour to JeanJacques Nattiez’s semiological approach, and from the generative theory of Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff to David Lewin’s notion of generalized musical intervals and transformations.2 In part, musictheoretical diversity is an inevitable consequence of the variety of ways in which composers have sought to organize sounds. Hence the theoretical constructs underpinning the concept of figured bass would do little to elucidate the atonal works of the so-called Second Viennese School, for instance, any more than set theory would do much to assist our understanding of the Baroque basso continuo. However, the richness and complexity of the musical fabric have meant that even the simplest piece or excerpt may appropriately be viewed from a number of different perspectives, which may well be interdisciplinary in nature. For example, in recent times, the approaches adopted by some in the music-theoretical community have increasingly been cross-fertilized with, informed by, or purposely published alongside the thinking and empirical findings of cognitive scientists working in the field of music – resulting in an epistemological
1 Eugene Narmour, ‘Music Expectations by Cognitive Rule-Mapping’, Music Perception, 17 (2000), 329–98 (p. 395). 2 Arnold Schoenberg, Fundamentals of Musical Composition (London, 1967). Heinrich Schenker, Free Composition (Vienna, 1935; rev. edn, ed. Oswald Jonas, 1956; English edn, trans. and ed. Ernst Oster, New York, 1979). Eugene Narmour, The Analysis and Cognition of Basic Melodic Structures (Chicago, 1990); idem, The Analysis and Cognition of Melodic Complexity (Chicago, 1992). Jean-Jacques Nattiez, Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music, trans. Carolyn Abbate (Princeton, 1990). Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, A Generative Theory of Tonal Music (Cambridge, MA, 1983). Lewin, Generalized Musical Intervals.
15–26. John Sloboda. 259.. ibid. Krumhansl. 319–63. Robert O. 365–82 (p. generative (Fred Lerdahl). 3–20. Musicae scientiae. Carol Krumhansl offers a perceptual analysis in terms of segmentation.282 to courtly norms’. Special Issue (1998). Jamshed Bharucha takes the opportunity to discuss the cognitive mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of melodic anchoring. and Musical Ideas’.282: A New Theory of Parametric Analogues’. Music Perception. Caroline Palmer. and Robert O. ‘Calculating Tonal Tension’. 1985). 265–318. 2 . ibid. 365). 161–70. ed.4 Similarly. ibid.5 Yet. despite its diversity. 433–53. Michel Imberty. for example.. ‘A Perceptual Analysis of Mozart’s Piano Sonata K. tension and musical ideas.282: Segmentation. Sloboda. ibid.Repetition in Music hybridization of varying fruitfulness.282. 5 Allen Forte. perceptual (Irène Deliège) and psychoanalytical (Michel Imberty). ibid. ‘Le solo de cor anglais de Tristan und Isolde: Essai d’analyse sémiologique tripartite’. 43–62.. all music shares certain characteristics. ‘Wagner “Alte Weise”: Une approche perceptive’. for instance.. rather than in isolation. Fred Lerdahl. The Musical Mind: The Cognitive Psychology of Music (Oxford. Jamshed J. ‘Music Analysis and Music Perception’. for example. ‘Analyzing Form and Measuring Perceptual Content in Mozart’s Sonata K. Music Analysis. ‘Courtly Behaviors’. examines the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata K.. 154. and. Carol L. to permit music perception to ‘get off the ground’. Nicholas Cook and Mark Everist (Oxford. measures perceptual content (‘bottom up’). ibid. ‘Anatomy of a Performance: Sources of Musical Expression’. Fred Lerdahl uses the piece to exemplify a model of tonal tension.. Bharucha.282 from several standpoints: Eugene Narmour undertakes a brief formal analysis (‘top down’). including the prevalence of 3 An issue explored in some depth by Ian Cross. 7 Ibid. Caroline Palmer considers sources of musical expression in performance. Robert Gjerdingen ‘focuses on several musical behaviours that would have been obvious to courtiers in Mozart’s time and relates his presentation of them in K.. 17 (1998)..6 and the fundamental requirement for sounds to stand in significant relation to one another.. 401–32. 63–90. ibid. a special issue of Musicae scientiae presents five different approaches to the cor anglais solo from Tristan und Isolde: Schenkerian (Allen Forte). Gjerdingen. ‘Melodic Anchoring’.3 One volume of Music Perception. ‘A Schenkerian Reading of an Excerpt from Tristan und Isolde’. and then synthesizes the two through a theory of parametric analogues. and in so far as it exists as a distinct category of human endeavour. 4 Eugene Narmour. Bruno Nettl finds features common to all musical dialects. Gjerdingen. to enable the dialectics of tension/resolution and motion/rest to flourish. ‘An Experimental Music Theory?’. 91–116. ‘Prolongational Structure and Schematic Form in Tristan’s “Alte Weise”’. Jean-Jacques Nattiez.7 In the context of ethnomusicology. 27–41. semiological (Jean-Jacques Nattiez). Irène Deliège. 383–400. and discusses their transcultural impact on musical structure: the need for a framework of discrete and reidentifiable locations in pitch and time. 13 (1996). ibid. Rethinking Music. ‘Du vide à l’infini: Homologies structurales repérées dans Tristan à partir du solo de cor anglais du III° acte’. ibid. looks for cognitive universals in the processing of sound. Fred Lerdahl. 6 John A. Tension.. 1999). in relation to K.
further to this. . 1986). if not explicitly. that discovering. ‘repetition has been the decisive factor in giving shape to music . It is also instructive to read Karl Eschman’s critique of Alois Hába. Bruno Nettl. while Arnold Schoenberg is characteristically unequivocal: ‘Intelligibility in music seems to be impossible without repetition. ‘Music and Duration’. 1961). 12 Stewart Macpherson. repr. for example. MA. Form in Music (2nd edn. or stem from theory itself. 1915). 19ff. Boston. but dozens of times. for instance. as espoused by writers ranging from Stewart Macpherson to Wallace Berry. and. . observes that ‘we instinctively prefer coherence and its quiet strength to the restless powers of dispersion – that is. 152–60. 39–40. 20. the concept of stereotyped structures such as AA’A’’A’’’ .’11 The fact that music does appear to have certain universal attributes raises the question whether different theories pertaining to music (and the analyses that accrue from them) share common features or are based on common premisses too. Wallace Berry. in Reflections on Art. before the whole story is happily told all over again. the ubiquity of repetition is widely recognized. Musical Thought (Cambridge. 213. come to an end.’10 Composers themselves have expressed the same view: Igor Stravinsky. Then.12 Here. Susanne K.’9 Similarly. we prefer the realm of order to the realm of dissimilarity’. Basil de Selincourt. . Consider. Music and Letters. 286–93. 1958). the traditional notion of form. hardly does a section. . (characteristic of variation sets). who claimed to have written melodies in a style devoid of repetition. [It] begins in the bar. Again. Carlos Chávez. 11 Igor Stravinsky. nothing but methods of repetition’. 1983). The Study of Ethnomusicology (Urbana. in his Changing Forms in Modern Music (2nd edn. 10 Victor Zuckerkandl. For it seems reasonable to assume. and continues in the melody and in every phrase or item into which we can resolve it. again and again. for example. 1 (1920). which consists largely of repetitions. 38. given the variety of music-theoretical perspectives in existence. Victor Zuckerkandl writes: ‘Music can never have enough of saying over again what has already been said. the tendency of musical utterances to conclude by descending. the various devices used to integrate form are. whether any pervasive aspects of music theory that do exist are ultimately a reflection of musical universals. 1942). Fundamentals of Musical Composition. according to Carlos Chávez. 69–70. Poetics of Music (Cambridge. MA. and the fact that material is habitually repeated or varied. 41. or arise from both. Form in Music (London. it is repetition that features most widely in theoretical and analytical work. demonstrating and explaining their shared characteristics – by adopting a metatheoretical stance – could be a profitable avenue of enquiry. ed. 1968). then by implication.8 Indeed. not once or twice. ABA (‘ternary’ form) and ABACA . Englewood Cliffs. Langer (London. Sound and Symbol: Music and the External World (New York. 9 8 3 . (the ‘rondo’) implicates repetition both within pieces and between them. . . 1956). Schoenberg. its presence and functions acknowledged. Basil de Selincourt. notes that the ‘foundation of musical expression is repetition.Introduction melodic intervals around a major second.
20 including conjunct. in the first chapter of Music. surface contrasts notwithstanding. Moreover. where the author’s previously developed model of musical meaning is reviewed in the light of information theory. the Arts. whose internal regularity and use as stylistic archetypes imply repetition within and between works. working in the same tradition. states: ‘The whole point of an inspired composition is that it diversifies a unity. Cohen. 20 Burton S. deviations from the expected course of events that give rise to musical meaning. Free Composition. an incomplete portion of music implies certain continuations. the Arts. A Classic Turn of Phrase: Music and the Psychology of Convention (Philadelphia.13 Alan Walker. On the other hand. 99ff. His ideas are taken to their logical extreme by a one-time pupil. ‘Information Theory and Music’. Alan Walker. The Thematic Process in Music (Connecticut. trans. 1962). 19 See.19 Meyer’s thesis is this: for experienced listeners. 1–40.16 But of greater significance is the fact that repetition underpins the symmetries within the Ursatz. trans. that many works from the Western classical repertory are each built on a single theme. Meyer. in whose development the music and writings of Schoenberg have proved seminal. who demonstrates. 1973). 14 13 4 . 15 Heinrich Schenker. 1988). 1951). the harmonic-melodic framework which Schenker considered to lie in the background of all tonal masterpieces. Emotion and Meaning in Music (Chicago. disjunct and symmetrical patterns. Explaining Music (Chicago. 1967). ‘The Perceptual Roles of Melodic Process. both at the level of motives and in the construction of large-scale forms. Rudolph Réti. 21 See Robert O. 137–63. Explaining Music. and Ideas. 1956). and ed. the whole point about musical analysis is that it seeks to show the unity behind the diversity.18 Although it is not stated openly. Gjerdingen. 17 See. Joel E. which vary in probability according to the frequency of past occurrence (hence the significance of repetition). however. ‘in which one (more or less) identifiable. 44. Borgese. A Study in Musical Analysis (London. 18 Meyer. It is. Schenker too acknowledges the part played by repetition. Leonard Meyer’s evolving reflections on musical patterning variously involve repetition. Meyer. Meyer asserts. Meyer identifies a number of different basic melodic structures (subsequently termed ‘processes’). and Ideas (Chicago. for example.21 Rudolph Réti. Oswald Jonas (Chicago. Contour and Form’.17 most overtly in his notion of ‘conformant relationships’. Leonard B. in his early treatise on harmony.Repetition in Music repetition is central to the various motivic-cum-thematic theories that have been propounded. Behavioral Science. Rosner and Leonard B. 7 (1962). 1954). Music. 16 Schenker. Oster.15 This recognition carries over into the sophisticated models of musical structure that followed. Harmony. for example. ed. the concept is no less important. Music Perception. in Free Composition the question of repetition at deeper structural levels is aired in some detail. 4 (1986). discrete musical event is related to another such event by similarity’. Elisabeth M.’14 Although his approach is quite different. to his own satisfaction at least.
John Rahn. or between two works. and I shall try to develop an idea proposed by Gilbert Rouget: ‘. Hanninen. as well as being implicit in a number of others. ‘Equivalence and Similarity in Pitch and their Interaction with Pcset Theory’. ‘Pattern in Music’. for instance. for example. Formal Representation of Human Judgement. a new framework is required. reflecting a range of approaches. 27 Ian Bent and William Drabkin. 6 (1987). The more parallelism one can detect. Music Analysis. which entails abstracting groups of pitch classes and tracing similarities between them.22 settheoretical analysis. ed. or between the work and an abstract ‘model’ . As the authors state: ‘The importance of parallelism in musical structure cannot be overestimated. . whether within a single work.24 As Nicolas Ruwet says: I shall start from the empirical appreciation of the enormous role played in music. 4 (1985). 219–50. Simon and Richard K. Morris. The central analytical act is thus the test for identity. 52. Psychological Review. 25 (2003). to which motivic similarities are fundamental at the paradigmatic stage. Journal of Music Theory. Mark Everist. A Generative Theory of Tonal Music. variously involve repetition too: take. Isaacson. Nattiez. TSRPR 4 and PRPR 5). 21–41. 22 5 . 59–97. By comparison it determines the structural elements and discovers the functions of those elements . Lewin. by repetition. 39 (1995). 26 Lerdahl and Jackendoff. ‘Methods of Analysis in Musicology’. 5. Sumner. 1968). Steven Block and Jack Douthett. consider that repetition (‘parallelism’) accounts for four of the five preference rules underlying Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff’s A Generative Theory of Tonal Music (GPR 6. Journal of Music Theory. MPR 1. 38 (1994). 207–43. 24 See. Music Analysis. 3–36. ‘Pitch-Class Set Analysis Today’. 25 Nicolas Ruwet. certain fragments are repeated. Generalized Musical Intervals. it is on repetition – or absence of repetition – that our segmentation is based’. . Herbert Simon and Richard Sumner’s system of encoding patterns parsimoniously using preordained ‘alphabets’ and the operators ‘same’ and ‘next’. . See also Dora A. Benjamin Kleinmuntz (New York. Eric J. ‘Le solo de cor anglais de Tristan und Isolde’. 23 See.27 In order to compare the role of repetition in different theories of music. others are not. Robert D. ‘Similarity of Interval-Class Content’. . ‘The Internal Representation of Pitch Sequences in Tonal Music’.Introduction Other models of musical structure. Herbert A.’26 In relation to music analysis – the application of theory to a particular piece or group of pieces – Ian Bent and William Drabkin provide a useful summary: Analysis is the means of answering directly the question ‘How does it work?’ Its central activity is comparison. 29–58.25 Finally. 1980). idem. ‘A Theory of Recontextualization in Music: Analyzing Phenomenal Transformations of Repetition’. 503–22. . 88 (1981). the more internally coherent an analysis becomes.23 and semiological analysis. See also Diana Deutsch and John Feroe. trans. Analysis (London. Basic Atonal Theory (New York. and the less independent information must be processed and retained in hearing and remembering a piece. comparison of unit with unit. for example. 1987). for example. . Music Theory Spectrum. The Structure of Atonal Music. ‘Vector Products and Intervallic Weighting’. such as GPR 5 (symmetry). at all levels. whatever their conceptual basis. Forte.
in which the individual musical intuitions that typify approaches to music theory and analysis are informed by relevant thinking and findings appropriated from the domain of cognitive psychology. Mental Spaces. The ‘zygonic’ theory that I have developed over the last decade or so.28 In epistemological terms. 6 . Lewin. Fauconnier. note 1. offers such a paradigm.Repetition in Music capable of functioning metatheoretically. Preface. which hypothesizes that the creation and cognition of musical structure derive from imitation (and therefore repetition).29 28 29 See above. Generalized Musical Intervals. which was formulated in the context of cognitive science. This interdisciplinary approach will be evident from the outset: the summary of zygonic theory that follows is contextualized through reference both to David Lewin’s mathematically based theory of musical intervals and transformations and to Gilles Fauconnier’s concept of mental spaces. zygonic theory is a hybrid of the type alluded to above.
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