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October 2021

Redefining pitch proximity: Tessitura and mobility as constraints on melodic intervals

Journal/Book: Music Percept. 2000; 17: Journals Dept 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Univ Calif Press. 315-327.

Abstract: In descriptions of melodic structure, pitch proximity is usually defined as the tendency for small pitch intervals to outnumber large ones. This definition is valid as far as it goes; however, an alternative definition is preferable. The alternative defines pitch proximity in terms of two more basic constraints-a constraint on tessitura (or pitch distribution) and a constraint on mobility (or freedom of motion). This new definition offers several advantages. Whereas the usual definition predicts only interval size, the new definition predicts interval direction as well. The usual definition predicts small intervals generally, whereas the new definition predicts context-sensitive variations in interval size. Finally, if the new definition is given the first few notes in a melody, it can assign a probability to each of the pitches that could occur next. In sum, the new definition offers a more precise and detailed description of melodic structure.

Note: Article Von Hippel P, Ohio State Univ, Sch Mus, 1866 Coll Rd, Columbus,OH 43210 USA


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