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date: 18 August 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article proposes a general definition of tonic and explores its ramifications across repertories and intellectual traditions (cognitive, historical, ethnomusicological, music analytical, and phenomenological). The proposed definition admits of both wide and narrow applications: from broad conceptions that detect tonics in a wide range of world musics to a more narrow definition that limits the term (and its theoretical entailments) to bourgeois musical cultures in the West. These ideas are illustrated through discussions of diverse musical examples, from the “common practice” (Bach, Schubert) to the postwar avant-garde (Lutosławski), French house (Daft Punk), and rust-belt hard rock (Akron-based band Dia Pason).

Keywords: tonic, tonality, music cognition, ethnography, Lutosławski, Bach, Schubert, Daft Punk, Dia Pason

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