Lawrence M. Zbikowski

in Conceptualizing Music

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195140231
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199871278 | DOI:

Series: AMS Studies in Music


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This chapter begins with an overview of research in cognitive science, focusing on processes of categorization. For centuries, writers in the West regarded categories as fixed and immutable, and any variation in categorization was taken as evidence of the failure of the human intellect to deal with the structure of the real world. However, the pioneering work of Eleanor Rosch and others in the 1970s showed that category structure was not as simple as first believed. In particular, some levels of categorization are preferred over others, and some members of a category are regarded as better representing the category than others (a phenomenon known as graded membership).

Keywords: musical coherence; musical motive; categorization; Wagner's Leidensmotiv; syntax; graded membership

Chapter.  15666 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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