Pub. Date:
MIT Press
Generative Theory of Tonal Music

Generative Theory of Tonal Music

by Fred Lerdahl, Ray Jackendoff


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262120944
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 01/01/1983
Series: Cognitive Theory and Mental Representation Ser.
Pages: 434
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About the Author

Frd Lerdahl is Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columbia University.

Ray Jackendoff is Seth Merrin Professor of Philosophy and Codirector of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of many books, including Foundations of Language.

What People are Saying About This

Antonio Damasio

This is an important collection of scholarly articles large in scope but perfectly focused. The effort seems devoted to countering its subtitle. After reading it you will discover that the relationships of language music and the brain are far less mysterious than they were when you began. This is no small accomplishment and Michael Arbib and his colleagues deserve to be congratulated.

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