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How is the Beatles' "Help!" similar to Stravinsky's "Dance of the Adolescents?" How does Radiohead's "Just" relate to the improvisations of Bill Evans? And how do Chopin's works exploit the non-Euclidean geometry of musical chords? In this groundbreaking work, author Dmitri Tymoczko describes a new framework for thinking about music that emphasizes the commonalities among styles from medieval polyphony to contemporary rock. Tymoczko identifies five basic musical features that jointly contribute to the sense of tonality, and shows how these features recur throughout the history of Western music. In the process he sheds new light on an age-old question: what makes music sound good? A Geometry of Music provides an accessible introduction to Tymoczko's revolutionary geometrical approach to music theory. The book shows how to construct simple diagrams representing relationships among familiar chords and scales, giving readers the tools to translate between the musical and visual realms and revealing surprising degrees of structure in otherwise hard-to-understand pieces. Tymoczko uses this theoretical foundation to retell the history of Western music from the eleventh century to the present day. Arguing that traditional histories focus too narrowly on the "common practice" period from 1680-1850, he proposes instead that Western music comprises an extended common practice stretching from the late middle ages to the present. He discusses a host of familiar pieces by a wide range of composers, from Bach to the Beatles, Mozart to Miles Davis, and many in between. A Geometry of Music is accessible to a range of readers, from undergraduate music majors to scientists and mathematicians with an interest in music. Defining its terms along the way, it presupposes no special mathematical background and only a basic familiarity with Western music theory. The book also contains exercises designed to reinforce and extend readers' understanding, along with a series of appendices that explore the technical details of this exciting new theory.
Music theorists have long believed that 19th-century triadic progressions idiomatically extend the diatonic syntax of 18th-century classical tonality, and have accordingly unified the two repertories under a single mode of representation. Post-structuralist musicologists have challenged this belief, advancing the view that many romantic triadic progressions exceed the reach of classical syntax and are mobilized as the result of a transgressive, anti-syntactic impulse. In Audacious Euphony, author Richard Cohn takes both of these views to task, arguing that romantic harmony operates under syntactic principles distinct from those that underlie classical tonality, but no less susceptible to systematic definition. Charting this alternative triadic syntax, Cohn reconceives what consonant triads are, and how they relate to one another. In doing so, he shows that major and minor triads have two distinct natures: one based on their acoustic properties, and the other on their ability to voice-lead smoothly to each other in the chromatic universe. Whereas their acoustic nature underlies the diatonic tonality of the classical tradition, their voice-leading properties are optimized by the pan-triadic progressions characteristic of the 19th century. Audacious Euphony develops a set of inter-related maps that organize intuitions about triadic proximity as seen through the lens of voice-leading proximity, using various geometries related to the 19th-century Tonnetz. This model leads to cogent analyses both of particular compositions and of historical trends across the long nineteenth century. Essential reading for music theorists, Audacious Euphony is also a valuable resource for music historians, performers and composers.
Tonality and Transformation is a groundbreaking study in the analysis of tonal music. Focusing on the listener's experience, author Steven Rings employs transformational music theory to illuminate diverse aspects of tonal hearing - from the infusion of sounding pitches with familiar tonal qualities to sensations of directedness and attraction. In the process, Rings introduces a host of new analytical techniques for the study of the tonal repertory, demonstrating their application in vivid interpretive set pieces on music from Bach to Mahler. The analyses place the book's novel techniques in dialogue with existing tonal methodologies, such as Schenkerian theory, avoiding partisan debate in favor of a methodologically careful, pluralistic approach. Rings also engages neo-Riemannian theory-a popular branch of transformational thought focused on chromatic harmony-reanimating its basic operations with tonal dynamism and bringing them into closer rapprochement with traditional tonal concepts. Written in a direct and engaging style, with lively prose and plain-English descriptions of all technical ideas, Tonality and Transformation balances theoretical substance with accessibility: it will appeal to both specialists and non-specialists. It is a particularly attractive volume for those new to transformational theory: in addition to its original theoretical content, the book offers an excellent introduction to transformational thought, including a chapter that outlines the theory's conceptual foundations and formal apparatus, as well as a glossary of common technical terms. A contribution to our understanding of tonal phenomenology and a landmark in the analytical application of transformational techniques, Tonality and Transformation is an indispensible work of music theory.
In recent years neo-Riemannian theory has established itself as the leading approach of our time, and has proven particularly adept at explaining features of chromatic music. The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Riemannian Music Theories assembles an international group of leading music theory scholars in an exploration of the music-analytical, theoretical, and historical aspects of this new field.
David Lewin's Generalized Musical Intervals and Transformations is recognized as the seminal work paving the way for current studies in mathematical and systematic approaches to music analysis. Lewin, one of the 20th century's most prominent figures in music theory, pushes the boundaries of the study of pitch-structure beyond its conception as a static system for classifying and inter-relating chords and sets. Known by most music theorists as "GMIT", the book is by far the most significant contribution to the field of systematic music theory in the last half-century, generating the framework for the "transformational theory" movement. Appearing almost twenty years after GMIT's initial publication, this Oxford University Press edition features a previously unpublished preface by David Lewin, as well as a foreword by Edward Gollin contextualizing the work's significance for the current field of music theory.
"Ranging widely over the musical and intellectual thought of the eighteenth century, Thomas Christensen orients Rameau's accomplishments in the light of contemporaneous traditions of music theory as well as many of the scientific ideas current in the French Enlightenment. Rameau is revealed to be an unsuspectedly syncretic and sophisticated thinker, betraying influences ranging from neoplatonic thought and Cartesian mechanistic metaphysics to Locke's empirical psychology and Newtonian experimental science. Additional primary documents and manuscripts (many revealed here for the first time) help clarify Rameau's fascinating and stormy relationship with the Encyclopedists: Diderot, Rousseau, and d'Alembert." "This book will be of value to all music theorists concerned with the foundations of harmonic tonality and it should also be of interest to scholars of eighteenth-century science, the Enlightenment, and the general history of ideas."--BOOK JACKET.
The Geometry of Musical Rhythm: What Makes a "Good" Rhythm Good? is the first book to provide a systematic and accessible computational geometric analysis of the musical rhythms of the world. It explains how the study of the mathematical properties of musical rhythm generates common mathematical problems that arise in a variety of seemingly disparate fields. For the music community, the book also introduces the distance approach to phylogenetic analysis and illustrates its application to the study of musical rhythm. Accessible to both academics and musicians, the text requires a minimal set of prerequisites. Emphasizing a visual geometric treatment of musical rhythm and its underlying structures, the author—an eminent computer scientist and music theory researcher—presents new symbolic geometric approaches and often compares them to existing methods. He shows how distance geometry and phylogenetic analysis can be used in comparative musicology, ethnomusicology, and evolutionary musicology research. The book also strengthens the bridge between these disciplines and mathematical music theory. Many concepts are illustrated with examples using a group of six distinguished rhythms that feature prominently in world music, including the clave son. Exploring the mathematical properties of good rhythms, this book offers an original computational geometric approach for analyzing musical rhythm and its underlying structures. With numerous figures to complement the explanations, it is suitable for a wide audience, from musicians, composers, and electronic music programmers to music theorists and psychologists to computer scientists and mathematicians. It can also be used in an undergraduate course on music technology, music and computers, or music and mathematics.

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