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Music and Probability Paperback – 31 Aug 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (31 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262515199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262515191
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 718,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


As he did in The Cognition of Basic Musical Structures, Temperley here challenges the frontiers of the definition of music theory and cognition. Choice

About the Author

David Temperley is Associate Professor of Music Theory at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, and the author of The Cognition of Basic Musical Structures (MIT Press, 2001).

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By Anna MK on 18 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Shows the link between musical style, perception, and probability 10 Jun. 2007
By calvinnme - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If music perception is largely probabilistic in nature this should not be surprising since probability pervades almost every aspect of mental life. Thus the author invokes a number of concepts from probability theory and probabilistic modeling, relying most heavily on Bayes Rule, an axiom of probability. In music perception, one is often confronted with a pattern of notes and wishes to know the underlying structure that gave rise to it. Bayes' Rule allows us to identify that underlying structure. The author also makes use of concepts from information theory such as the idea of cross-entropy. Cross-entropy shows in a quantitative way how well a model predicts a body of data. In chapter 2 the author surveys all the probability theory needed for the following chapters. He also shows a few simple examples, and discusses the applications of probability theory to other areas of study. In chapter three the author addresses a basic problem of music perception - the identification meter - and proposes a probabilistic model of this process.

Chapters 4 and 6 examine the problem of key perception from a probabilistic standpoint. The author first proposes a model of key perception in monophonic music (melodies). This model is then expanded to accommodate polyphonic music. With regard to both meter and key, the models proposed are not merely models of information retrieval, but also shed light on other aspects of perception. In particular they lead very naturally to ways of identifying the probability of actual note patterns. This in turn provides a way of modeling cognitive processes such as error detection, expectation, and pitch identification, as well as more subtle musical phenomena such as musical ambiguity, tension, and "tonalness". These issues are explored in chapter 5 with regard to monophonic music and chapter 7 with regard to polyphonic music. The final three chapters of the book explore a range of further issues in music and probability. Chapter eight surveys some recent work by other authors in which probabilistic methods are applied to a variety of problems in music perception and cognition: transcription, phrase perception, pattern perception, harmony, and improvisation. Chapter nine considers the idea of construing probabilistic models as descriptions of musical styles and thus as hypotheses about cognitive processes involved in composition.

In summary, this book is a good one in demonstrating that a probabilistic perspective opens the door to a new and powerful approach to the study of music creation. Highly recommended for all who have an interest in algorithmic composition. The following is the table of contents:

1. Introduction 1

2.Probabilistic Foundations and Background 7
2.1 Elementary Probability 7
2.2 Conditional Probability and Bayes' Rule 8
2.3 Other Probabilistic Concepts 14
2.4 Early Work on Music and Probability 19

3. Melody I: The Rhythm Model 23
3.1 Rhythm and Meter 23
3.2 Previous Models of Meter Perception 26
3.3 A Probabilistic Rhythm Model 30
3.4 The Generative Process 31
3.5 The Meter-Finding Process 36
3.6 Testing the Model on Meter-Finding 41
3.7 Problems and Possible Improvements 43

4. Melody II: The Pitch Model 49
4.1 Previous Models of Key-Finding 50
4.2 The Pitch Model 56
4.3 Testing the Model on Key-Finding 62

5. Melody III: Expectation and Error Detection 65
5.1 Calculating the Probability of a Melodic Surface 65
5.2 Pitch Expectation 66
5.3 Rhythmic Expectation 71
5.4 Error Detection 74
5.5 Further Issues 76

6. A Polyphonic Key-Finding Model 79
6.1 A Pitch-Class-Set Approach to Key-Finding 79
6.2 The Generative Process 83
6.3 The Key-Finding Process 85
6.4 Comparing Distributional Models of Key-Finding 89
6.5 Further Issues in Key-Finding 92

7. Applications of the Polyphonic Key-Finding Model 99
7.1 Key Relations 99
7.2 Tonalness 108
7.3 Tonal Ambiguity and Clarity 116
7.4 Another Look at Major and Minor 121
7.5 Ambiguous Pitch-Collections in Common-Practice Music 125
7.6 Explaining Common Strategies of Tonal Harmony 131

8. Bayesian Models of Other Aspects of Music 139
8.1 Probabilistic Transcription Models 139
8.2 Bod: The Perception of Phrase Structure 143
8.3 Raphael and Stoddard: Harmonic Analysis 147
8.4 Mavromatis: Modeling Greek Chant Improvisation 151
8.5 Saffran et al.: Statistical Learning of Melodic Patterns 156

9. Style and Composition 159
9.1 Some Simple Cross-Entropy Experiments 161
9.2 Modeling Stylistic Differences 166
9.3 Testing Schenkerian Theory 172

10. Communicative Pressure 181
10.1 Communicative Pressure in Rules of Voice-Leading 182
10.2 The Syncopation-Rubato Trade-Off 184
10.3 Other Examples of Communicative Pressure in Rhythm 191
10.4 "Trading Relationships" 197
10.5 Low-Probability Events in Constrained Contexts 202
10.6 Conclusions 205
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Strap on your seatbelt, the trip ahead is bumpy and fraught with difficulties but the took is worth your trouble 25 Mar. 2015
By david mac ewen - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The title of this book is somewhat misleading. The book reviews various models of music perception tested with a Baye's Theorem. The aim of the book is commendable and the utilization of Baye's Theorem seems appropriate. The first few chapters Temperley does an excellent job of explaining the basis of Baye's Theorem. But from there, you step off the deep end as he tries to explain the various models used for music perception such as how the perceiver comes to detect the particular rhythm or key of a piece of music. Temperley gives it a good try but if the reader is not rather familiar with music theory and some elementary notion of how science attempts to understand something by modeling it, I'm afraid the book will not be too satisfying. Temperley needed to rethink carefully how to present some rather esoteric models in a way that would be accessible to the average intelligent reader. The section of rhythm perception is dense and takes several readings - and for me many diagrams - to understand just what in the heck he was doing. The sections on key detection got somewhat better but overall the book really needed better editing. I fully appreciate Temperley's approach and commend him on some very nice research I'm sure his work is well appreciated in journals such as Music Perception but he should test his chapters out on his friends or his wife to tell him he needs to edit his work for the non-musiologist.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A wonderfully informative text 7 Sept. 2013
By Natworks1 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well written text, exploring a multi-faceted approach to music-theoretical thinking. A very accessible text, that explores deeper theoretical concepts concerning the syntax of music.
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