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.
This book explores the relationships between language, music, and the brain by pursuing four key themes and the crosstalk among them: song and dance as a bridge between music and language; multiple levels of structure from brain to behavior to culture; the semantics of internal and external worlds and the role of emotion; and the evolution and development of language. The book offers specially commissioned expositions of current research accessible both to experts across disciplines and to non-experts.