Generative Music Theory in Relation to the Schenkerian and Riemannian Traditions


Generative music theory treats music theory as a branch of cognitive science and, through a rule system, models the structures that listeners implicitly infer from a musical surface. This paper discusses commonalities and differences between this approach and those of two major predecessors in the history of music theory, Schenker and Riemann. An analysis of a Schumann song helps make the comparisons tangible.



generative music theory, Heinrich Schenker, Hugo Riemann, prolongational structure, pitch space, harmonic function, “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai”