Review Article on Repetition in Music: Theoretical and Metatheoretical Perspectives by Adam Ockelford.

author: Joshua B. Mailman

Psychology of Music, 35 (2) 2007

ABSTRACT: The essay considers, in a positive light, Ockelford's zygonic theory and its implications as presented in his recent book. An analysis of Mozart's K.333 is discussed in regard to vocabulary, notation, and relations to other analytic theories, such as Schenker's, Schoenberg's, and Hanninen's. Ockelford's approach to atonal music differs from Forte's but introduces an intriguing set of new mathematical measures for atonal pitch sets, which are clarified, formalized, and presented in an appendix to the essay.

The second half of the essay delves into metatheoretical issues, regarding perception, cognition: Ockelford critiques Lewin's transformation theory for being insufficiently sensitive to the realities of music perception. Yet Ockelford's critique fails to recognize the broad set of contexts of perception and cognition that Lewin's theory encompasses. Specific details of Lewin's GIS theory together with a survey of views (Korsyn's, Margulis's, Dubiel's) about music perception and cognition illustrate and inform the considerations of the metatheoretical topics that Ockelford raises.