An Analysis of Music Theory Synthesis Essay

The theory of Music analysis starts in two major dimensions- the “five levels” and across the “three main domains”. According to Hanninen (7), sonic, contextual and structural are the three domains in musical theory.

A domain, as used in music theory and analysis, is an area of musical discourse, experience or activity about a certain piece of music. It also refers to a number of musical ideas or phenomena being studied. Thus, there are three domains in this category- the contextual domain, the sonic and the structural domains.

To begin with, the Sonic domain is denoted as “S” and includes all the psychoacoustic facets of a given music piece. In this case, each note is conceived as a bundle of attributes of “S”. In this way, it allows the analyst to track down the activities of a multiple “S” dimension independent of each other and in a concurrent manner.

The organization of “S” in individual musical segments progress towards larger units and is indicated by differences as well as disjunctions. For instance, where there is a large difference in attribute values such as pitch and timbre, greater disjunctions and stronger boundaries are likely to be created between units of a musical piece.

According to Hanninen (31), organization of “S”, structural organization and associative organization make the three basic facets of musical organization in musical theory.

Secondly, the domain contextual, denoted as “C”, is used to recognize the workings of such features of music as association, repetition and categorization of a piece of music. Contextual domain, as the name suggests, describes the importance of a context of music in the formation of an object as well as its identity.

For instance, it provides an indication of the segments (objects) of music that are permeable and immersed through interaction with contexts. In domain “C”, the theory shifts its focus from isolation of segments to a new concept in which segments are grouped into associations. In addition, it focuses on the identification of a number of contexts that encroach into the objects of music in order to shape the sound in a given manner.

In “C” domain, repetition is considered as a non-static aspect and an active force in the process of forming the object. Thus, Hanninen (23) argues that association of units is the rationale behind segmentation. This mechanism focuses mainly on association between groups of notes, although it invokes some attributes of the “S” domain of individual notes.

Thirdly, the theory emphasises on the structural domain, denoted as “T”, which provides an indication of active reference to the theory of musical syntax (structure). The musical analyst has a role of choosing or developing the “H”.

It recommends the guides as well as segments in addition to conferring how musical events are interpreted. Hanninen (52) has shown that the theory has two major components- theoretical entities (HE) and frameworks (HF). They are drawn from other musical theories such as the “12-tone” theory and Schenkerian theory.

In conclusion, the three domains of musical theory (“S”, “C” and “T”) are important in the analysis of musical pieces. For instance, the “S” and “C” domains are active, although domain “C” is virtually active.

Thus, they show a complementation of strategies in human cognition. On the other hand, the “T” domain is different from the first two domains in that it can be activated or deactivated according to the analyst’s interest and the piece of music being analyzed.

Works Cited

Hanninen, Dora. A Theory of Music Analysis. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2004. Print.

This synthesis essay on An Analysis of Music Theory

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