Skip navigation
Paperback | $50.00 Short | £41.95 | 384 pp. | 7 x 10 in | June 1996 | ISBN: 9780262621076
Mouseover for Online Attention Data

Essential Info

A Generative Theory of Tonal Music


A classic in music theory since its publication in 1981, this work 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 unconsiously inferred by the experienced listener. From the viewpoint of traditional music theory, it offers many innovations in notatation as well as in the substance of rhythmic and reductional theory.

About the Authors

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.