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Journal Article

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Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal





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By extensively revising the I-R model of by melody (Meyer, 1973; Narmour, 1984, 1989, 1990, 1991a, 1991b, 1992, 1996, 2000) we can explain the structural functions of many musical parameters. Here I will deal with melodic interval, registral direction, pitch height, scale-step (major and minor), duration (interval, length, rate, speed, and pace), tempo, dynamics (loudness), and texture (saving the other parameters for a later essay). By reconceptualizing the model’s core concept of functional directionality within parametric scales, only three isomorphic structural analogues become cognitively necessary, namely, process (and its variant duplication), reversal, and return. Attached signs (0, ~, - , +) augment the main symbols (P, D, and R) so as to track strength of implication, realization, and denial. A new theory of rhythmic structure is put forth. And with an aim toward theoretical unification, the reconfigured model confronts the combinatorial complexities of parametric interactions and offers convincing interpretations of congruence and noncongruence— the primary sources of musical affects. Works of Brahms, Debussy, Mussorgsky-Ravel, and Schoenberg are analyzed.

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Published as "Toward a Unified Theory of the I-R Model (Part 1): Parametric Scales and Their Analogically Isomorphic Structures," Eugene Narmour, Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 33 No. 1, September 2015; (pp. 32-69) DOI: 10.1525/mp.2015.33.1.32. © 2015 by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center.


unified theory, parametric scaling, noncongruence, analytical symbology, extending I-R



Date Posted: 11 October 2016

This document has been peer reviewed.