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The Cognition of Tonality - as We Know it Today

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This article begins with a brief summary of how tonality is defined in musicology and some of the tensions that exist between different theoretical traditions. Then, the basic cognitive studies examining the elements of tonality are reviewed as background to some of the more recent literature. The introduction considers the relationship between some of these results and the acoustics of musical tones. The next section reviews studies that take a cross-cultural approach. This is followed by a summary of computational models that attempt to characterize the dynamics of tonality perception, particularly how listeners abstract a sense of key and how it changes over time. This is followed by a description of recent work at the intersection of music theory and music cognition. The final section considers the prospects for studying tonality with brain imaging techniques.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cornell University New York USA

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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