Quantifying harmonic hierarchies and key distances

Carol L. Krumhansl

in Cognitive Foundations of Musical Pitch

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780195148367
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893201 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Psychology Series

Quantifying harmonic hierarchies and key distances

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This chapter begins with two experiments that measure the relative structural significance of all possible major, minor, and diminished chords in major and minor key contexts. A well-defined harmonic hierarchy emerges that is considered in light of a number of possible influences, namely: tonal consonance; the statistical distribution of chords in tonal-harmonic music; and the positions of the component tones in the tonal hierarchy of the context key. The chapter concludes by deriving from the harmonic hierarchy a description of interkey distance, which can be compared to that derived from the tonal hierarchy.

Keywords: chords; major keys; minor keys; harmonic hierarchy; tonal consonance; interkey distance

Chapter.  9139 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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