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Hardcover | ISBN: 9780262120944 | 384 pp. | 7 x 10 in | December 1982
Paperback | ISBN: 9780262620499 | 384 pp. | 7 x 10 in | May 1985

A Generative Theory of Tonal Music


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.

About the Author

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.