Harmony: A Psychoacoustical Approach

  • Richard Parncutt

Part of the Springer Series in Information Sciences book series (SSINF, volume 19)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XII
  2. Richard Parncutt
    Pages 1-18
  3. Richard Parncutt
    Pages 19-47
  4. Richard Parncutt
    Pages 48-76
  5. Richard Parncutt
    Pages 77-97
  6. Richard Parncutt
    Pages 98-134
  7. Richard Parncutt
    Pages 135-166
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 167-206

About this book


My first encounter with the theory of harmony was during my last year at school (1975). This fascinating system of rules crystallized the intuitive knowledge of harmony I had acquired from years of piano playing, and facilitated memorization, transcription, arrangement and composition. For the next five years, I studied music (piano) and science (Physics) at the Univer­ sity of Melbourne. This "strange combination" started me wondering about the origins of those music theory "rules". To what extent were they determined or influenced by physics? mathematics? physiology? conditioning? In 1981, the supervisor of my honours project in musical acoustics, Neville Fletcher, showed me an article entitled "Pitch, consonance, and harmony", by a certain Ernst Terhardt of the Technical University of Munich. By that stage, I had devoured a considerable amount of (largely unsatisfactory) material on the nature and origins of harmony, which enabled me to recognize the significance of Terhardt's article. But it was not until I arrived in Munich the following year (on Terhardt's invitation) that I began to appreciate the conse­ quences of his "psychoacoustical" approach for the theory of harmony. That is what this book is about. The book presents Terhardt's work against the broad context of music perception research, past and present. Music perception is a multidisciplinary mixture of physics, psychology and music. Where different theoretical ap­ proaches appear contradictory, I try to show instead that they complement and enrich one another.


Harmony Music Theory Psychoacoustics acoustics crystal influence mathematics perception physics physiology psychology system transcription

Authors and affiliations

  • Richard Parncutt
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Music and PsychologyUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989
  • Publisher Name Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-3-642-74833-2
  • Online ISBN 978-3-642-74831-8
  • Series Print ISSN 0720-678X
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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