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From ScratchWritings in Music Theory$
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James Tenney, Larry Polansky, and Lauren Pratt

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038723

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038723.001.0001

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Hierarchical Temporal Gestalt Perception in Music

Hierarchical Temporal Gestalt Perception in Music

A Metric Space Model (with Larry Polansky) (1978)

(p.201) Chapter 9 Hierarchical Temporal Gestalt Perception in Music
From Scratch

James Tenney

, Larry Polansky, Lauren Pratt, Robert Wannamaker, Michael Winter
University of Illinois Press

James Tenney talks about hierarchical temporal gestalt perception in music based on a metric space model, which he applied to compositions by Anton Webern, Edgard Varèse, and Claude Debussy. He begins with a discussion of temporal gestalt-units (TGs), using the terms “element,” “clang,” and “sequence” to designate TGs at the first three hierarchical levels of perceptual organization. He then considers a number of questions that might be the most relevant to musical perception, such as: how the perceptual boundaries of a TG are determined; or the extent to which the factors involved in temporal gestalt perception are objective. In an effort to provide some tentative answers to such questions, Tenney proposes a hypothesis of temporal gestalt perception and presents some results of a computer analysis program based on this hypothesis. The program, written by Larry Polansky, represents a simplified model of this aspect of musical perception, and Tenney describes some of the implications, limitations, and possible extensions of this model.

Keywords:   composition, James Tenney, temporal gestalt perception, music, metric space model, Anton Webern, Edgard Varèse, Claude Debussy, temporal gestalt-units, computer analysis program

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