propositional writing

The Hypothesis that Musicality is Determined by the Musicality of Constraints

Philip Dorrell, 27 March 2012

Certain constraints apply to most musical items. For example, all pitch values come from a particular scale, and rhythm is defined by nested regular beats. Similar constraints apply to most musical items, although the details vary from item to item. For example, one tune may be in 3/4 time and another tune may be in 4/4 time. Each time signature constitutes a possible constraint that might apply to a musical item. (And it is not possible for both constraints to apply simultaneously.)

The hypothesis advanced here is that constraints are the only thing that make music musical, that different constraints have different levels of musicality, and that, to a first approximation, the overall musicality of a musical item is the sum of the musicalities of the individual constraints that apply to that item.

It follows from this hypothesis that everything that we don't know about what makes music musical is a consequence of what we don't know about the types of constraints that define individual musical items.

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