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Journal Article

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Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal





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Music theorists have often disagreed about the material variables that determine the perception of harmonic closure. To investigate this controversial topic, we presented subjects with pairs of selected two-chord progressions. The subjects judged which member of each pair seemed more closed. Preferences varied across pairs of cadences and generally obeyed transitivity. Quantitative reformulation of theoretical harmonic variables permitted correlational analysis of the results. Three or four variables, including one or two that reflect learned stylistic structures, best explained our findings. Conventional harmonic factors of scale step, soprano position, and root position demonstrated surprisingly little explanatory power.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Published as "Harmonic Closure: Music Theory and Perception," Burton S. Rosner, Eugene Narmour, Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 9 No. 4, Summer, 1992; (pp. 383-411) DOI: 10.2307/40285561. © 1992 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.



Date Posted: 11 October 2016

This document has been peer reviewed.