Influences of phenomenology: James Tenney's theory [Book Review]

Axiomathes 6 (2):273-308 (1995)
This article on James Tenney, the American music theorist and composer, sets out the overall framework of his theory of music, in particular the systematic analysis conducted in his essay entitledMeta+hodos. Although these reflections cannot be included in the sphere of American musical phenomenology, they show remarkable similarities with phenomenological themes. A Gestalt approach centred on the description of sound phenomena is delineated, together with a conceptualization hinging on the phenomenal nature of music and the idea of perceivable structures and expressive valencies. A theory of musical wholes and parts — from the cohesion and segregation viewpoint — is followed by a theory of form predicated on an original and significant definition: that form is the perception of differences. Finally, the methodological development of Tenney's theory is traced and criticized, in particular the conflict between descriptive and non-descriptive moments.
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