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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The present chapter deals with tonal cognition, and more precisely with tonal hierarchies and how tonal hierarchies influence music perception in Western music. The 12 chromatic tones, on which Western tonal music is based, are organized in subsets of seven tones that define musical keys. Within a given key, some tones and chords are structurally more important than others, resulting in intra-key hierarchies. Inter-key distances also rely on tonal hierarchies. Keys are not only related because they share several tones, but also because hierarchically important tones in one key continue to be of importance in others. Two major models of tonal hierarchies are detailed: the Tonal Pitch Space Theory developed by Lerdahl and the MUSACT connectionist model proposed by Bharucha. Finally, a number of studies, showing how tonal hierarchies influence several aspects of music perception, are reviewed.

Keywords: tonal hierarchy, tones, chords, musical keys, music perception

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