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Music Theory for Cognitive Scientists

Dmitri Tymoczko

Thursday, December 08, 2005, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Princeton University, Dept. of Music

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My talk aims to introduce cognitive scientists to recent developments in the foundations of music theory. I describe a number of properties that, I believe, jointly contribute to the perception of "tonality" in music. These include centricity, consonance, macroharmony, and efficient voice leading. (I will illustrate these properties with examples that do not presuppose musical training.) I conclude by presenting a geometrical model showing that musical chords can be represented as points in non-Euclidean "quotient spaces," with the structure of these spaces determined by elementary features of music perception. Throughout, I suggest ways in which cognitive scientists might use these ideas to understand and model music cognition.

Dmitri Tymoczko